Orthomolecular Psychiatry Offers Hope to People with Depression, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, and Addictions

By Burton Goldberg, The Voice of Alternative Medicine

Recently, Patrick Kennedy, son of Ted Kennedy, was interviewed on 60 minutes and revealed a family secret: his mother was an alcoholic, his father was an alcoholic, and Patrick himself is an alcoholic.

When I watched the 60 minutes interview I had already been thinking about writing an article that would give hope to people with addictions and mental health problems such as depression, schizophrenia, autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and bipolar disorder as well as to their friends and family members who have to watch them suffer. As with the Kennedys, addictions run in families. It's in the genes. But the good news is that genes can be modified.

The idea to write an article about mental health had been stewing in my mind ever since April 2015 when Andreas Lubitz, the German copilot of Germanwings Flight 9525, intentionally flew the airplane into the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board. The copilot had suffered from suicidal tendencies in his past and went to a psychotherapist before his aviation career.

The German airplane crash was a tragic situation. And it didn't have to be that way. If conventional psychotherapists and people who have addictions and other mental disorders knew about orthomolecular psychiatry we would be able to empty out many of the mental institutions in the world. Gun violence would drop dramatically. The suicide rate would plummet. Loved ones of people with mental disorders wouldn't have to suffer.

What is orthomolecular psychiatry and how can it help people with addictions and other mental problems? That's exactly what I am going to explain in this article.

How What I've Learned Can Help You and Your Loved Ones

I can tell you the truth about what will put your depression and addiction into remission because I'm not a medical practitioner with any economic stake in this issue. Therefore, I don't have to worry that the FDA will shut down my medical practice or take away my license. I have studied alternative medicine for 45 years, have an honorary doctorate in humanities from Capital University, have testified before Congress as an expert on integrative treatments for cancer, and through my publications and public appearances over many years I have become known as "The Voice of Alternative Medicine." I'm also 89 years old. I'm not worried about myself. I'm worried about the future of my kids, grandkids, and great grandkids—and beyond.

This topic of addiction and mental health was what led me to alternative medicine about 40 years ago. The love of my life at the time, the woman I lived with, had a daughter who at the age of 19 slit her wrists. The psychiatrist who was working with the daughter finally said to the mother, "I give up. Did you ever hear of vitamin therapy?"

My girlfriend, the mother of the suicidal young girl, asked me if I had heard of vitamin therapy, but I had not. At the time, I was a builder, developer, and restaurateur. I had no concept of anything in medicine. But when I told an acquaintance what had happened, she said, "My son practices vitamin therapy in California." Vitamin therapy is one component of orthomolecular psychiatry.

I had my own airplane in those days and I flew mother and daughter to San Jose where my acquaintance's son had an office. After examining the girl and giving her a five-hour glucose tolerance test, he discovered she was hypoglycemic. In other words, she had a blood sugar imbalance. When she was treated with diet and nutrients, she got well and was no longer suicidal.

This was not my only experience with depression and addiction. Two of the major loves of my life were addicts. One was a drug addict; the other was addicted to both alcohol and drugs. The experiences I had with these women were extremely painful. I had to separate from both of them. It changed my life. Both of them were gorgeous, both highly educated and talented, well-read, creative artists: one was a photographer, the other was a painter. They were both special women. When they were on they were glorious, but when they were off they had mood swings. With one, her father was an alcoholic, with the other her mother and father were alcoholics.

After my experience with these women, I began to study addictions, depression, and anxiety, researching these conditions as much as I could and interviewing doctors. I even produced two videos on the subject: "Addiction: Getting the Monkey Off Your Back" and "Curing Depression, Anxiety, and Panic Disorder."

A Hereditary Curse

One of the things that we know about addictions is that for 75 percent of addicts, it's a genetic inheritance. One of my mentors in this area is Julia Ross, MA, MFT, author of The Mood Cure and founder of The Recovery Systems Clinic in Mill Valley, California. In my addiction DVD, she points out that studies show that if children who are born to alcoholic or drug-addicted parents are adopted at birth by parents who don't have addictions the children still become alcoholics or drug addicted at the same rate as the children who grew up with their addicted parents. If an alcoholic or drug addict raises a child born to parents who don't have addictions, the child will not become an addict.

It's also important to remember that addictions can skip generations. That means that grandparents can pass on their addictions to their grandchildren without the generation in between being affected.

This is a genetic predisposition. And the genes that program the neurotransmitters in the brain are the ones responsible for addictions, depression, and other mental disorders. You can inherit a very sluggish set of genes that control the neurotransmitters responsible for positive moods. And that's what drives generation after generation to alcohol or drugs or both. Addiction is really self-medication to relieve pain, either emotional or physical. It's getting the monkey off your back, using alcohol or drugs to get rid of the pain.

"It's not a moral problem," says Julia Ross. "It's not a personality problem. It's a biochemical problem and there are real solutions."

Psychotherapy may have some emotional benefits. But most addicts attending psychotherapy never lose their cravings for alcohol or drugs. That's where orthomolecular psychiatry comes into play.

The Danger of Antidepressants

Forty-three million Americans are on antidepressant drugs. Selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are some of the most common antidepressants prescribed in the United States. These drugs select serotonin-producing cells as a target and then inhibit or slow down the cells' ability to put the serotonin molecules in storage. It forces cell to keep serotonin molecules active at all times rather than pursue serotonin's usual rhythm of activity and inactivity. This creates the illusion that there is more serotonin available in the brain.

Paxil®, a type of SSRI, is linked to suicide and murder in both teenagers and young adults. The SSRI Cimbalta® also is linked to suicide. Other SSRIs have suicide and homicide not as a side effect but as an effect. These drugs are the reason that many soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder have been committing suicide. Almost 40% of people in the army who committed suicide in 2006 and 2007 were on SSRI drugs likeProzac® and Zoloft.®

These harmful drugs are banned in Germany. Yet, the FDA approved SSRIs. And then the suicides began, forcing the FDA to issue black box warnings for the drugs, even though the agency still allows them on the market. It is a crime against humanity that the FDA approved these drugs. And it's an equally horrible crime that doctors are still prescribing SSRIs. Like so much in conventional medicine, it all comes down to greed and the bottom line of the pharmaceutical companies (more on this later).

Once you're on an antidepressant drug, you're hooked. Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft all have withdrawal symptoms. The only way you can get off them is with the help of a physician. It's dangerous to go off them immediately. People have been known to collapse in agony and pain while trying to withdraw from SSRIs.

Orthomolecular Psychiatry: The Missing Piece of the Psychotherapy Puzzle

Orthomolecular psychiatry is an astoundingly effective way to heal depression, anxiety, addictions, and other mental problems. It involves using individualized testing to resolve nutrient deficiencies through nutritional therapy and using other natural means to restore a patient's neurotransmitters, thereby eliminating their depression, anxiety, addictions, or ADHD. I have learned a lot about the use of nutrients to balance neurotransmitters from Hyla Cass, MD, who has achieved a great deal of success using this method in hundreds of patients with addictions, depression, and other mental health disorders.

For addictions, adding nutritional therapy to psychotherapy and 12-step programs can reduce the 90 percent relapse rate seen with conventional psychotherapy alone to a 20 percent relapse rate. Orthomolecular psychiatry also has an astounding success rate with depression, anxiety, and ADHD.

This differs dramatically from the conventional approach, where doctors prescribe anti-anxiety drugs such as benzodiazepines, Xanax®, Valium®, and Ativan® for addictions or anxiety and SSRIs for depression. The brain rapidly becomes accustomed to these drugs. So a patient takes the drugs for a week and becomes addicted. They're hooked! When they try to get off the drug they experience tremendous anxiety or depression even worse than before they were taking it. And then the doctor says: "See. You really need to be on this." This even occurs with the sleeping medication Ambien®, which is supposed to be non-addictive. However, Julie Ross has seen terrible Ambien® addictions.

Feeding the Brain

An important part of orthomolecular psychiatry is giving the brain the nutrients it needs to make the neurotransmitters responsible for a healthy mental outlook. This is accomplished by neurotransmitter testing to determine the neurotransmitters that are low or elevated in each individual patient.

"[Conventional] Psychiatry is the only field of medicine that does not test the organ it treats, which is ridiculous," Charles Gant, M.D. said on my Curing Depression DVD. "If you have chest pain you go see a cardiologist. A cardiologist is going to do blood work, they're going to do studies to find out what's going on with the heart. If you go see a nephrologist with urine that has blood in it the nephrologist is going to test your kidneys. But somehow in psychiatry coming out of a tradition of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy apparently this field does not believe in general that the organ that we're treating deserves to be thoroughly worked up and biochemically and scientifically tested."


People who have enough serotonin are balanced. They're cheerful, they're funny, they're emotionally flexible. They don't get obsessive, they're not particularly worried, they have a very strong capacity to relax and to sleep because serotonin is the material from which the brain makes melatonin, the chemical that helps us sleep. One of the most common symptoms of depression is insomnia, which is a clue that the type of depression the person is suffering from is a low serotonin type of depression.

People who test low on serotonin have an agitated type of depression. It's not flat, lifeless. It causes people to only be able to look at the negative both about themselves and their body and the future of all humankind. They're anxious and worried. They have low self-esteem. Irritability is another classic symptom specific to low serotonin but not other types of depression. This can explode into rage and anger.

Serotonin is produced from the amino acid tryptophan, which is converted into 5-HTP, which in turn is converted into serotonin. Therefore, when a patient tests low in serotonin, supplementing with either tryptophan or 5-HTP can help replenish serotonin levels. This must be done through supplementation since obtaining tryptophan from diet alone is not enough. Just as we require a high-protein diet to make serotonin, so do the animals we eat. When we eat a grain-fed animal we are getting very little tryptophan. Corn has almost no tryptophan. So it's important to combine a high-protein diet of grass-fed, free-range animals with tryptophan or 5-HTP supplementation.

Dopamine, Norepinephrine, Epinephrine (Adrenaline)

Dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine (adrenaline) are the neurotransmitters that produce enthusiasm, vitality, and energy as well as our enthusiasm for life and our outgoing nature. These three neurotransmitters are called catecholamines. The second most common type of depression is a depression that is a flat, tired, want to stay in bed, and can sleep all day type of depression. Some people can have the low-serotonin type of depression and this other type of depression as well.

People who have the flat, tired type of depression are low in one or more of the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine (adrenaline). If you suffer from this type of depression you crave stimulants such as caffeine because catecholamines act like caffeine in your body and if you're deficient in them you don't have that supply of natural caffeine. Unfortunately, coffee only promotes depression.

If there is a deficiency in catecholamines you don't need help sleeping—you need help waking up. Tyrosine is the amino acid that wakes us up. Just eating a diet rich in tyrosine will not work to resolve the depression because some people are so depleted that they couldn't dream of giving up their coffee even when they introduce high protein foods. When tyrosine supplements are used, the brain instantly recognizes the energy is there and the lights turn on. People who are anxious shouldn't take tyrosine because it energizes. People who have anxiety should never build up their catecholamine levels until they have calmed down. 5-HTP is good for anxiety. It's only when people with anxiety are too tired and low in vitality that they can use tyrosine to build up the catecholamines.


Endorphin neurotransmitters make you feel good and stop you from being overly emotional. Endorphins are natural painkillers. You've probably heard that exercise boosts endorphins, what's called a "runner's high." But running too far is a dangerous way to boost levels. If you're in a car accident and you don't feel the pain for the first few hours, this is because of a rise in endorphins. Chronic stress uses up our endorphin resources.

To build endorphin levels, orthomolecular psychiatrists often recommend a supplement with 19 amino acids in free forms that are able to most easily enter the bloodstream and brain. The amino acid DL-phenylalanine also is used because it slows down the brain's destruction of endorphins. Chocolate has DL-phenylalanine, which is why lots of people are addicted to chocolate. If you crave chocolate when you're sad it's a symptom of low endorphins.


When your GABA levels are balanced, you don't feel stressed out. When you experience something stressful, the tense feeling dissolves. Temporary stress is not harmful for the body, but when stress becomes chronic we lose our ability to cope. Adrenaline levels rise during stress and we always have plenty of this chemical. However, GABA counterbalances adrenaline. If the body is balanced, the brain produces GABA as soon as it recognizes a stressful situation. GABA calms you down and helps you rebound from stress, but the more stress you're under and the more adrenaline is released the more GABA is used up. GABA is made out of protein, and if we don't eat enough protein we can't keep up with stress.

Adrenals also produce cortisol to help us cope with stress. Adrenaline is released first then GABA then cortisol. Too much stress exhausts not only GABA but cortisol as well, leading to cortisol deficiency.

In order to restore levels of GABA and cortisol, orthomolecular psychiatrists recommend a traditional mood supportive diet to support the adrenal glands and to encourage the production of adequate amounts of cortisol. Licorice is used to restore cortisol while botanicals including Ashwagandha help support adrenal gland function. This allows people to rebound from stress easily and gives them permanent relief of depression. This is extremely important because the more adrenaline is surging in the body the more cortisol is surging and the more you're using up and depleting your serotonin, endorphins, and catecholamines. All forms of depression are worsened by stress.

The Five Types of Depression

One of the best books I've ever read on balancing brain chemistry is by William Walsh, PhD. It's called Nutrient Power: Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain and it explains the systems and substances that can be used to put mental health conditions into remission, whether it's bipolar disorder, autism, schizophrenia, or addiction.

In one study, Walsh and a group of researchers examined about 300,000 blood and urine chemistry test results and 200,000 medical histories from approximately 2,800 patients diagnosed with depression. The results indicated the patients fell into one of five different types of depression. Three of these depression types were not caused by serotonin imbalances.

  • Undermethylated Depression - Found in 38 percent of the patients in the study, this type of depression is the result of not being able to keep serotonin in the synapse long enough. This causes serotonin to be reabsorbed too rapidly.
  • Pyrrole Depression - Found in 17 percent of the patients that Walsh and his team studied, this type of depression was associated with impaired serotonin production combined with severe free radical damage.
  • Copper Overload Depression - Fifteen percent of cases in this study resulted from an inability to efficiently metabolize metals. This group of patients had the greatest improvements in mood and well being when their copper levels were balanced by using specific nutrients. SSRIs had no effect.
  • Low Folate Depression - Another 20 percent of the subjects experienced a low-folate type of depression. Folate and vitamin B12 reduced their depression symptoms while SSRIs actually made them feel worse. Based on a study of 50 school shootings over the last 50 years, Walsh believes that the people responsible for the shootings likely suffered from this type of depression, since people with low-folate depression are more likely to be affected by SSRIs' ability to cause suicidal or homicidal thoughts.
  • Toxic Depression - Caused by an overload of toxic metals, especially lead, this type of depression occurred in 5 percent of patients, but is becoming less common due to the removal of lead from gasoline and paint.
  • Dr. Walsh uses a urine test to diagnose pyrrole depression. A blood test can pinpoint whether you have one of the other four types.

Other Orthomolecular Strategies for Healing Depression and Addictions

In addition to using appropriate neurotransmitter-balancing supplements based on the patient's needs, orthomolecular psychiatrists will help patients with depression, addictions, and ADHD by performing food allergy tests to detect food intolerances. The patients then eliminate from the diet the foods they are allergic to. I took my former girlfriend's 19-year-old daughter, the one who tried to commit suicide, to a doctor in Connecticut. He injected a food allergen into her and she'd go into a deep depression and then he'd give her a relieving dose and she'd come out of it.

Timothy Kuss, a clinical nutritionist out of Colorado, tests for amino acids, fatty acids, and heavy metals to determine the specific nutrients patients with mental health problems need. He also performs hormone testing while DNA testing is done through a company called 23andme.com. The DNA testing, performed using a simple saliva test, reveals which drugs you should avoid based on your genetic variants and which nutrients are deficient.

An alcoholic woman had called me so riddled with anxiety that her hand was shaking and couldn't insert the key in her automobile and drive. When she called me, I called Timothy Kuss. He did a consultation with her and sent her a group of nutrients he shipped overnight on a Friday. She received them Saturday morning. Within four hours of taking them her anxiety attack had mostly receded.

Another way to help anyone with mental disorders is to use electrodermal screening to tap into the body using quantum physics on a resonance level. But you need a doctor who's experienced. This is very important and very few doctors are experienced in this technique. You can find a doctor at the Alliance for Addiction Solutions website.

Your Gut and Your Mood

Another critical component of orthomolecular psychiatry is to balance the bacteria in your gut so that the bad bacteria don't outnumber the good bacteria. There is a lot of research to show that the population of microbes in your gut—collectively known as the microbiome—can control your mood and emotional outlook. Taking a good probiotic/prebiotic can help restore the balance in your gut, which in turn helps improve your mood. Orthomolecular psychiatrists are aware of this gut-brain connection, which is why they consider healing the gut an important part of therapy.

In addition to a probiotic/prebiotic supplement, a product known as Restore™ from Biomic Sciences LLC can help restore intestinal health by eliminating "leaky gut." Restore™ contains lignite extract, a carbon-rich, soil-derived substance that improves the gut environment, which in turn fosters a healthy intestinal microbiome. Lignite extract inhibits the zonulin pathway, which helps strengthen the gut wall. Restore also was found to protect the gut wall from damage caused by glyphosate (Round Up®), the herbicide used on genetically modified foods. By tightening the junctions in the gut, Restore™ creates an intestinal environment where probiotic microorganisms can flourish.

The Politics of Psychotherapy

President Roosevelt created the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to protect the people of this country. Lincoln created the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Nixon created the EPA for the same reason. Our government has become so corrupt that these same agencies that were created to protect us are now protecting industry instead. The heads of these agencies are appointed by the President and politicians. And here's where the corruption starts.

For instance, the president appointed FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. And she arrived at the FDA from Henry Schein, Inc., the largest seller of dental products, which also happens to sell mercury amalgam fillings. Do you think the FDA is going to tell you the truth about how mercury amalgams are causing cancer and other diseases? Of course not. Then Hamburg wouldn't be assured a job at Henry Schein, Inc. when she leaves the FDA. There is a revolving door between the drug companies and the FDA. Employees leave one and go to the other.

That's why the FDA sanctions using drugs like the SSRIs. The agency's representatives, who arrived at the FDA after leaving their jobs in Big Pharma, don't care about the consequences to the people taking the drugs. They don't care if someone commits suicide or slaughters innocent people. They only care about drug company profits because once they leave the FDA they know there's a job waiting for them at the drug companies.

And conventional psychotherapists who prescribe these drugs are equally at fault. Most doctors don't want to rock the boat. They're afraid of going up against the FDA or their state medical board because they can lose their licenses or have their reputations discredited.

This, again, is a crime against humanity. Until we ban the practice of allowing pharmaceutical industry representatives to work at the FDA, more lives will be lost through suicides and murders caused by SSRIs.

You need to take action by making this article go viral to let people know they can put their depression, addictions, anxiety, and other disorders into remission without using harmful drugs. Share this article on Facebook, Twitter and your other social media outlets. You could save a life.

Would you like help finding an orthomolecular psychiatrist? Then schedule a consultation with Burton Goldberg. Call him today at (415) 725-3555 or email him at burton@burtongoldberg.com to schedule your consultation.

About Burton Goldberg

Burton Goldberg is on a mission to reform conventional medicine and to help people reclaim their health. Known as "the voice of alternative medicine," he has traveled the world in search of the top therapies and treatments available from the fields of natural healthcare and alternative, integrative, and conventional medicine. What put Burton Goldberg on the fast track to national prominence was the 1994 publication of his now best-selling Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide, which has sold more than 750,000 copies in print, a reference work on how to treat 200 health conditions with alternative medicine. It has been hailed "the bible of alternative medicine." Burton also is author of 23 books, all with five stars on Amazon. If you have cancer, be certain to watch Burton's hour and a half Cancer Conquest DVD, because it can show you which integrative therapies may help put your cancer into remission. Buy the DVD at www.burtongoldberg.com.

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