Phyllis Heffner

Holistic Child Psychiatrist

Metro Phyllis Heffner.jpg

104401 Shaker Dr., Suite 103

 Columbia, MD  21046

(410) 260-0344

I am a Maryland based Holistic and Integrative Psychiatrist. I graduated from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA in 1982, and Penn State/Hershey College of Medicine in 1986. My General Psychiatry Residency was at UNC-Chapel Hill. I continued my training with a Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship at the University of Maryland/Sheppard Pratt Hospital Joint Training Program. I am double Board Certified in both General and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. I have over 24 years of experience in conventional psychiatry, and have been retraining over the past several years in integrative, functional medicine after developing a chronic autoimmune disease that was not able to be adequately diagnosed or treated by conventional medicine. My intention is to pass on the knowledge I gained in helping to heal myself to my patients by applying integrative, holistic methods to Mental Health conditions.

As a Psychiatrist, I am trained and understand that Mental Health Challenges are related to Physical, Psychological and Social Factors. This fact is acknowledged in conventional as well as integrative Psychiatry, but often the conventional Psychiatrist focuses on the symptoms alone without searching for the underlying factors that have caused the symptom to occur. Subsequently, the conventional Psychiatrist' initial Psychiatric Evaluation mainly stresses the current psychiatric symptoms and their development, along with a more superficial exploration of the person's medical and social history. The major cause of mental illness is considered to be due to an imbalance in the neurotransmitters in the brain; as a result, the main treatment the Psychiatrist offers is psychiatric medication management. These medications can be helpful for some conditions, but often result in significant side effects or negative interactions with other medications or supplements. In addition, long term use of these medication have neither been studied to determine their safety or benefits. Unfortunately, it is all too common for a person to be started on medication and kept on it for months to years to the rest of their life, and if the initial medication is not helpful either another medication is added to or replaces the first one. When another form of talk or behavioral therapy is indicated, the person is usually referred to another therapist.

Recent research has discovered that there is a strong relationship between inflammation and both physical and mental health symptoms. The primary physical factors that modify a person's genetics and cause inflammation and dysfunction are: 1) allergens; 2) infections or imbalance of the microbes in the gut; 3) toxins; 4) diet and nutrition and 5) lifestyle and stress. Inflammation can result in digestive distress, asthma and allergies, heart problems, skin conditions, mental health symptoms (such as depression, anxiety, autism, and attention problems), cognitive impairments, autoimmune diseases, thyroid and adrenal problems, sex hormone imbalances, and many others. In addition, the microbes in the gut produce a large amount of neurotransmitters - including more serotonin and dopamine than in the brain! As a holistic and integrative Psychiatrist, the importance of evaluating the function of the brain, the body and the behavior, along with the Psychological, Social and Spiritual factors for each person, is critical in order to result in true health.

The integrative treatment plan is individualized based on this initial evaluation, and can include nutritional and dietary modification, herbs and nutritional supplements, lifestyle changes, stress reduction/mind-body techniques, biofeedback, essential oils, biomedical treatment of physical health problems, psychiatric medication and others. I always strive to reduce, and possibly even be able to eventually discontinue, the use of prescription medication as health is restored.

The goal is always to help the person improve their functioning to to reach their highest potential and to thrive and be happy!



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