Dr. Turecki believes in a holistic approach to treatment, one that uses both conventional and alternative methods. When emotional problems are relatively mild, an alternative approach may be sufficient. However, when treating psychiatric disorders, Dr. Turecki views such methods as valuable “add-ons” that can enhance the effect of more established treatments.
Without question, a healthy, well-balanced diet contributes to the prevention and successful treatment of many psychiatric problems. Food allergies, such as those to gluten or milk products, may be significant. The symptoms of children with ADHD are definitely exacerbated by food colorings and artificial additives.
There is clear evidence of a relationship between physical activity and both the prevention and the treatment of depression. Regular exercise is also effective in reducing anxiety and other symptoms of stress.
Insomnia and interrupted sleep are symptoms of virtually all psychiatric disorders. However, insomnia also can be one factor in precipitating a psychiatric disorder such as clinical depression or bipolar disorder. Dr. Turecki always emphasizes the importance of proper sleep.
Mind-body practices are a group of techniques that enhance the mind’s positive impact on the body. They all emphasize mindfulness, a mental state achieved by focusing awareness on the present moment. Meditation is a very valuable practice, which requires discipline, commitment and regular practice to be effective. Deep breathing, guided meditation and yoga also emphasize mindfulness. Any of these techniques, if practiced properly, relieves stress and anxiety, helps with sleep and reduces depressed, worried ruminative thinking.
Thyroid Hormones. Low thyroid functioning (hypothyroidism) can cause depression. Dr, Turecki orders thyroid function tests at the time of the initial visit. If the thyroid is not functioning properly, thyroid hormone replacement will be needed.
Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is quite common in people with psychiatric symptoms. The Vitamin D level is checked by Dr. Turecki, but he advises supplementation only if the level is low.
Melatonin. Melatonin is a natural hormone that regulates the sleep cycle. It is not a medication, does not need a prescription and does not interfere with normal sleep architecture. It can be very effective in the treatment of insomnia, especially in children.
Not all research studies agree on the importance of add-on treatment with dietary supplements. Dr. Turecki believes that there is sufficient evidence to recommend the following supplements.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Fish Oil Capsules) are taken by many people for the maintenance of good cardiac and brain health. Dr. Turecki recommends Omega-3s for most of his patients, especially those suffering from depression, bipolar disorder or ADHD.
N-Acetylcysteine is important in the function of key chemical messenger systems. It can be helpful when treating patients with symptoms of depression or anxiety.
Optimized Folate (Vitamin B9) is essential to the production and repair of cells. It is a potentially valuable add-on to anti-depressant treatment.
SAMe is an amino acid derivative. It is not an add-on, but it can be tried when anti-depressant treatment has failed.
Probiotics contribute to the maintenance of good gut health. Chronic low-grade inflammation may be a factor in some cases of depression and ADHD.
Broad-Spectrum Micronutrient Formulas. “Micronutrient” is a term that refers to all essential minerals and vitamins. A broad-spectrum formula should contain at least 20 minerals and vitamins. Dr. Turecki suggests such a formula as an add-on in the treatment of ADHD, aggressive behavior and mood disorders.