Expert Profile - Achina Stein
Dr. Achina Stein
DO, DFAPA, ABIHM, IFMCP, FACN, Integrative Psychiatrist
Founder of Functional Mind
Author of What If It’s NOT Depression? Your Guide to Finding Answers and Solutions.
Recipient of the 2008 Exemplary Psychiatrist Award by NAMI-RI
Dr. Achina Stein’s Bio:
Dr. Achina Stein is author of What If It’s NOT Depression? Your Guide to Finding Answers and Solutions.
She is a board-certified psychiatrist and has been in practice for 25 plus years. Propelled by her son’s health crisis in 2010, she found functional medicine which resolved all his mental health problems as well as her own. She has a busy private practice called Functional Mind LLC in Riverside, RI where she sees patients for functional medicine primarily but also sees patients for psychotherapy.
She is a certified practitioner of the Institute for Functional Medicine, a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and was awarded the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award by NAMI-RI in 2008. She is a former Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.
This is an exciting time for her, as she recently launched her online health coaching program, What If It’s Not Depression? Bootcamp as a companion program to her book to provide an alternative to medication for people with chronic mild depression-like symptoms that do not respond to antidepressant medications. She enjoys playing ultimate frisbee, singing and gardening.
What life events or challenges that you’ve experienced (could be minor, could be major) – whether you’ve experienced them directly or via someone close to you, have had any type of impact on your desire to pursue a career in psychiatry?
My mother was hit by a car when I was four years old. She was crossing the street and a car struck her shattering her knee and causing her to have a serious head injury. She was 39 yo and had just had her second child. Six months later she began to hear voices and was admitted to an asylum. She was given a diagnosis of schizophrenia. She was severely depressed (which they did not pickup for cultural reasons), could not function, and had raging rheumatoid arthritis that was triggered by the accident as well. I lost my mother to mental health issues and had to mother myself and my siblings. On some level I knew that she wasn’t treated properly and likely the reason I went into psychiatry. I didn’t make the conscious connection until years later. I just found that psychiatry was it for me because everything just clicked into place when I did my psychiatry rotation in 4th year. It was something that I was really good at and understood it intuitively. It was a gift from God. I was only later able to figure out where things went wrong for my mother beyond just getting hit by a car.
How did those events impact you emotionally/morally? How, if at all did those events impact the way you view how our current system teaches us to treat patients with mental health challenges?
These events impacted me terribly as noted above. No one took the time to really understand what happened to her. The postpartum aspect, the head injury, the cultural change for her and isolation from her family residing in another country, eating food foreign to her, being given the wrong diagnosis and therefore wrong medication, not being able to advocate for herself because she couldn’t speak English well, the explosion of rheumatoid arthritis in her body, and demands of an abusive husband. Granted this was in 1966. There is a lot known now that we didn’t know then.
When and why did you decide to actually focus on practicing Integrative Psychiatry, specifically, and how was your decision shaped by the experiences above?
I have always had an integrative mindset and philosophy. I chose to be a DO physician and actually withdrew my MD applications. DOs are holistic doctors. My psychiatry residency was also osteopathic as well. We were required to have our first year as an intern after medical school. So I delivered babies, assisted in surgery, ran codes in the ICU, etc. If we chose, we could leave and open a practice as a GP if we wanted. FP residency hadn’t been firmly a thing at that time. A few did but most went on to residency.
What methods or practices do you utilize to help individuals get/feel better?
I am trained conventionally as a psychiatrist but have also been well trained in psychodynamic psychotherapy which I use as a diagnostic tool and for therapy. When appropriate I do osteopathic manual medicine. I am trained in functional medicine through the IFM and certified. My practice is 90% functional medicine and 10% psychotherapy. I rarely prescribe meds. If I do prescribe them, it tends to be when patients want to taper off of them safely when they are ready mentally and physically. I do full physical exams, have a 2 hour thorough intake process with history taking to find all of the root causes of the patients symptoms. We then provide a 5-6 page treatment plan to address the root causes with personalized recommendations for dietary and lifestyle changes. This may include meditation, stress reduction, emotional freedom techniques, etc. We treat the gut to treat the brain and remove causes of inflammation, replace what is missing, reinoculate the gut microbiome and repair the gut lining. Some people have toxin exposures and/or chronic infection which get addressed as well. We provide testing to determine which chronic infections are at play, hormonal imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, markers of inflammation – the whole gamut is available but tailored to the patient.
How did people react when you share this Integrative/Holistic approach with them – whether it be patients or other doctors?
They are thrilled that a psychiatrist practices medicine in a way that makes complete sense; treating the whole person, not just the mind by suppressing symptoms with medications.
Organization: Functional Mind LLC
Location: Riverside, RI 02915
Address: 250 Wampanoag Trail, Suite 305
Online Program: www.whatifitsnotdepression.com/bootcamp
Other website: www.achinasteindo.com
I’m on FB and LinkedIn too