Expert Profile - Margarita Holsten
Dr. Margarita Holsten
Completed the Integrative Psychiatry Master Class
Received Certification from the Walsh Institute specializing in correcting nutritional deficiencies
Has taught meditation and mindfulness workshops internationally
Dr. Margarita Holsten’s Bio:
Margarita Holsten, MD, is an integrative psychiatrist and a founder of Timeline Integrative Psychiatry, a practice that utilizes a functional medicine approach to psychiatry designed to discover the root causes of the symptoms. Dr. Holsten believes in working with each individual person on their unique treatment plan that includes changes in the diet and lifestyle, correcting nutrient deficiencies and looking at hormonal imbalances. This individual approach is aimed at empowering each person to regain their freedom and reach their highest potential.
Dr. Margarita Holsten is a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. She earned her M.D. from Albert Einstein College of Medicine and B.A. from New York University (NYU). She completed her psychiatry training at Bellevue/NYU residency program. She held teaching positions at NYU School of Medicine and University of Colorado School of Medicine psychiatry residency programs. Dr. Holsten received certification from Walsh Institute specializing in correcting nutritional deficiencies and she completed Integrative Psychiatry Master Class program focusing on a functional medicine approach in psychiatry.
Dr. Holsten has a long standing meditation practice and taught meditation and mindfulness skills workshops both in US and internationally. She spent a year teaching meditation in Australia at a meditation retreat center and traveled to Mumbai, India to teach meditation practices. Dr. Holsten also studied with a Qi Gong Master and traveled to China with him.
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 family left Soviet Union when I was 14 years old and came to USA on a refugee status. It was heartbreaking to leave all my friends and family behind not knowing if I would ever get to see them again. Having left all I knew behind, I had to face all the challenges that come with trying to adjust to a completely different culture and learn a new language and a new way of life.
Shortly after landing in Brooklyn, NY I got a letter that my classmate, who was a really close friend of mine, had committed suicide. I was shocked to hear the news. I remember lying awake at night wondering why someone so young would choose to end their life or if I could have done something to help him. These questions would haunt me for years and I read many books on psychology looking for answers.
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?
Immigrating to a different country brought with it the loss of identity and loss of familiarity of the environment. Navigating the transition to a different country was a key, formative experience in my life. I also witnessed a whole group of people around me doing the same transition. Some people found their resilience and created a successful new life for themselves while others really struggled. The question of what can make the most difference in people’s lives and how to harness the resilience innate to the human beings compelled me to study psychiatry.
When and why did you decide to actually focus on practicing Integrative Psychiatry, specifically, and how was your decision shaped by the experiences above?
My interest in the Integrative approach emerged after completing my training. I was very enthusiastic about medical school and psychiatry because it would finally allow me to help people. However, training as a medical doctor required working 80-90 hour weeks, working 36 hour shifts with no to little sleep, not seeing sunlight for days and often having to eat fast food meals because there were no other options available in the hospital. Upon completion of my training, I felt completely burned out, with no energy or enthusiasm for life or work. Both my physical and mental health deteriorated after completing my training. The allopathic training did not provide the answers I was looking for, therefore I started looking at holistic alternatives. That is how I started my meditation practice that helped me sleep and restored a lot of my health. After a few more years I was lucky to find Dr. Will Van Derveer who invited me to participate in the Integrative Psychiatry Master class that he was co-teaching. It was at that Master Class that I felt a light bulb go on above my head and a lot of my questions were answered.
What methods or practices do you utilize to help individuals get/feel better?
In my practice I start with collecting a comprehensive history. Unfortunately, doctors today do not have enough time to conduct a thorough, detailed history of how symptoms evolved over time. However, that is precisely where most of the clues to the root causes can be found. All clients also get an extensive blood work evaluation to determine if there are hormonal and nutrient imbalances that are contributing to the symptoms. The latest research demonstrates the important role of microbiome and diet on mental health. I focus on helping my clients make changes to their diet that support their overall health. I also work with my clients on changing their lifestyle and starting a meditation or mindfulness practice if they want to incorporate it into their wellness.
How did people react when you share this Integrative/Holistic approach with them – whether it be patients or other doctors?
Most patients find my practice because they are searching for a more holistic approach to mental health. They feel relieved that there is another pathway available to mental health that involves much more than just taking medications and addresses root causes of their symptoms.