Expert Profile - Jennifer Giordano
Dr. Jennifer Giordano’s Bio:
I’m a holistic psychiatrist who uses an integrative approach to well-being. I’m passionate about helping people who want to take an active role in their own health and avoid, decrease, or stop using psychiatric medications. Having struggled with anxiety and panic attacks earlier in life, I know what it feels like and I know that there is a way through and out of struggling with these symptoms. I look at mental health challenges as an opportunity for a person to learn, grow and delve deeper into one’s own truth, what it is to be a human being, and fully realize one’s potential.
I graduated from Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed my psychiatric residency at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan. Currently I practice through the ground-breaking organization called Free Range Psychiatry which supports a blueprint for mental health and wellness that helps people find empowerment and lasting freedom in the face of mental health issues.
My goal for assessment and treatment is not to prescribe medications forever, but to be a health partner/collaborator/guide to optimize overall medical, physical, mental and spiritual well-being. I utilize an approach to patient care that is functional, integrative/holistic, individualized, creative, and in many ways non-traditional.
I’m passionate about exploring what it is to be a human being and helping people be peaceful, joyful and free. I’m known for my free spirit, nature-loving lifestyle, and wedding flash mob dancing.
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?
I struggled with anxiety as a young adult and suffered a lot. I had my first panic attack in an undergraduate chemistry class and ended up in the emergency room when I was 19 years old. It was a terrifying experience. I spent years suffering from an intense and persistent fear of dying despite having a healthy young body. For years I looked for relief down many roads. I tried medication, countless self-help books, psychotherapy, herbs, supplements, energy healing, diet changes, and all kinds of crazy things. There was a quiet desperation about it as I felt ashamed to tell others I was struggling. Knowing the loneliness, confusion, fear and despair that mental health struggles can bring it was only natural to want to be a support and resource to others struggling with the same.
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?
I was first given Xanax by a primary care doc to help ease the anxiety. I was never too happy about the idea of taking medication but was overwhelmed enough to be wiling to try it. My hopes for the relief it would bring drastically differed from the reality of taking it. When I took it, instead of feeling relaxed and calm, I felt weird, disconnected, fuzzy and not like my self. This only heightened my anxiety. It was not giving me what I was looking for.
A couple of years later a psychiatrist put me on Prozac for the anxiety and panic attacks. For the first few days it felt like I had found the solution to my problems. For a couple of days I felt like my self again. What a relief! But quickly something changed and soon thereafter I experienced the worst, most horrible anxiety ever. What was supposed to help me actually made things worse beyond what I could have imagined. I immediately stopped the medicine. But something had changed in my biochemistry and after this I found it even harder to get back to a state of peace and calm. I couldn’t find my way back to feeling “normal” anymore. This was defeating beyond what I can describe. Not only was I terrified but also feeling bewildered, lost, alone, and depressed. Why didn’t anyone have any answers? It was hard to have hope at certain points in the journey. But something in me felt that I had to keep seeking.
When and why did you decide to actually focus on practicing Integrative Psychiatry, specifically, and how was your decision shaped by the experiences above?
From my own journey I saw that it wasn’t one specific thing that solved my struggle with anxiety. It was a myriad of things. I cleaned up my diet, made sure I exercised, spent time outside, connected with nature, took supplements, had therapy sessions, explored my passions, and took a deep dive into spirituality. While medicine was part of my journey for a short time, it wasn’t what changed my life. Putting my well-being at the forefront of my life changed my life. In having this personal experience, naturally I’d want to support others doing the same.
What methods or practices do you utilize to help individuals get/feel better?
With every person I meet, it’s different. Each of us are so unique. There’s no cookie-cutter way to approach someone’s health and wellness. So each person’s wellness plan gets tailor-made. There’s no one “magic bullet” to mental health. It’s more commonly a whole bunch of little things done together that add up to someone feeling a lot better. In this, we look at potential medical causes for mental health issues and address them. We also look at the use of supplements, diet, nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, meditation, yoga, psychotherapy, and other explorations relevant to that person’s life and inclinations.
There’s no road map through mental health struggles. YOU are the road map. Mental health struggles are trying to show you something, teach you something, inspire you to grow and look deeper into what it is to be a human being. Helping people see this and supporting them on their own journey is a tremendously joyful thing to do.
How did people react when you share this Integrative/Holistic approach with them – whether it be patients or other doctors?
Generally people seem to appreciate the integrative and holistic approach when I share this with them. So many people don’t want to rely on medication alone or at all and intuitively realize that a multi-faceted, natural approach to wellness makes a lot of sense. I’ve found there’s a rapidly growing enthusiasm for this approach out there in the world.
Organization: Free Range Psychiatry
Location: Michigan (offers virtual services across multiple states)
Address: Virtual Practice (Tele-Psychiatry)
Book Appointment: https://freerangepsych.org/book-appointment/