Today’s #SameHere🤙Hero: Dr. Andrew Pleener.
The single most common question I get after folks read my story is: “what was your integrative psychiatrist’s name & how can I get in touch w him or her?” My psychiatrist, Dr. Richard Brown, is amazing. He’s a Western Med-Educated practitioner from some of the best schools in the country, who dives deep w patients & tries to get to the root cause of how they’re feeling. He looks for ALL means possible to treat them. Medication can be part of that treatment regimen, but not always. He looks at the whole person & helps create a comprehensive plan.
Here’s the only issue w Dr. Brown. The guy is booked for months, spends countless days of the yr on the road: 1) on behalf of nonprofits to help ppl in areas w major effects from unfortunate situations like the sex slave trade, & 2) lecturing & sharing w other doctors, treatments & practices that can help patients heal, beyond meds alone.
I’ve been searching for a while for other integrative psychiatrists who treat like Dr. Brown, bc I feel awful telling folks – sorry it’s really hard to get an appointment w him. Enter Dr. Pleener. We were introduced by a mutual friend, & immediately I appreciated his approach. He sounds so much like Dr. Brown in his philosophy.
To find psychiatrists who were trained one way, but found MANY ways to help patients beyond their traditional training, is truly a blessing. As you’ll read, Dr. Pleener’s methodologies came about from his own life experiences w family members. However, to find someone who can prescribe meds, but uses them as “A” tool in the whole tool box, is very refreshing.
Dr. Pleener is in Florida, & while he does do Telehealth appointments, we are going to work together to find a network of psychiatrists, around the country & around the world, who have a similar philosophy to him & Dr. Brown, so that anyone looking to be treated w this holistic approach, can do so. Please welcome Dr. Pleener!
“My inspiration to start an Integrative Psychiatric practice originated from two personal childhood experiences.
I used to observe my father, a Family Practice physician who specialized in weight loss management & stress reduction. Growing up I watched overweight individuals come to his clinic looking for guidance. Many of his patients had developed diabetes, heart disease, obstructive sleep apnea, fatigue &/or depression, directly related to their weight. A majority of them were already prescribed metformin, CPAP machines, cholesterol lowering meds, & anti-depressants to treat these comorbidities, & my father would often say ‘but did anyone try to help them lose the weight that caused these issues in the first place?’
Shadowing my father gave me the opportunity to watch him treat individuals with a combination of medical management integrated with exercise & dietary modifications. As they lost the weight over time, he would slowly taper them off the other medications. This made me realize that lifestyle change, plays a key role in helping others regain control of their lives.
Another personal story occurred during my adolescence. My family vacationed to Kenya & Tanzania. My mother returned from the trip with nausea, diarrhea, & abdominal bloating that persisted for weeks. She ended up testing positive for the parasite: campylobacter. After undergoing intensive medication management we were told she was cured, however over the next subsequent months, she began to develop depressive symptoms. She experienced fatigue, malaise, insomnia & poor concentration.
Her appetite was reduced due to nausea. Multiple specialists including infectious disease physicians & Gastroenterologists evaluated her quickly & reassured her that she was perfectly normal. She was diagnosed with Depression, Anxiety, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) & referred to psychiatrists for med management.
Another year went by & my mother’s symptoms were not resolved. She had lost over 30 lbs from lack of appetite, & struggled to get out of bed. She underwent colonoscopy, endoscopy, & more stool studies in the hopes that a root cause would be found. We eventually contacted the African Consulate who referred my mother to a tropical disease specialist in Manhattan. He discovered she had an additional parasite called Entamoeba Histolytica. After treatment with anti-protozoal drugs all of her symptoms resolved. Her energy came back, her depression & anxiety completely resolved, & her weight gradually normalized.
The experiences above made me realize that we should not be so quick to slap a diagnostic label on a person. There are many underlying causes to someone’s psychiatric symptoms that warrant a thorough investigation (more than a 20 minute one-time diagnostic evaluation).
Although sometimes there is a true need for medication, we do not always need to immediately jump to that decision right away as medications can have serious negative side effects. Regardless of chief complaint, everyone deserves a thorough investigation into the root cause with collaboration of care across multiple specialties. Many times medication can act as a band-aid treating a target symptom, while the real underlying cause is left undiscovered. Sometimes the solution is as simple as a lifestyle change.
I chose to enter the medical field because I wanted the opportunity to help ease the suffering of others. Seeing the pain & suffering my mother went through, & how her quick medical visits, & misdiagnosis resulted in years of prolonged suffering, motivated me to change this method of practice. Additionally, understanding my father’s principles in that lifestyle change, although sometimes a longer & more challenging process, will ultimately do more for a persons health long-term than simply adding more medications to act as band-aids for target symptoms. I founded Regional Psychiatry in 2019 to help serve the Central Florida region with a true integrative approach.
Our mission is to help others by providing non-rushed diagnostic evaluations. To provide strong coordination of care with primary care physicians, therapists & family members to better understand the root cause of the current condition. To place heavy emphasis on lifestyle changes such as weight loss management, natural sleep hygiene, & exercise therapy to combat the body’s inflammatory response.
Using medication management when truly needed with an emphasis on prescribing the lowest effective dose to avoid long term side effects. Our long-term goal is to ultimately reduce the need for medication & help individuals to regain control of their lives.
It’s been amazing how positively patients & their families have embraced this approach. People feel more hopeful, more supported, less stigmatized, & more motivated to engage in treatment knowing that our mutual goal is to uncover the true root cause of their symptoms, while restoring baseline functioning & minimizing medication dependence as much as possible.”
Dr. Pleener’s website: