Provider Profile: Integrative Psychiatry- Valerie Balandra, BC

Many times women can become frustrated by the task of finding appropriate, effective mental health care during pregnancy and the postpartum period.  When women are suffering with a mood issue, it is problematic to even recognize a need for care, let alone trying to navigate “options” such as information on the Internet, various types of care providers and insurance benefits.
WellPostpartum Weblog is proud to highlight practitioners who seek to address underlying causes for perinatal mood issues.  Many of the care providers in the Provider Profile Series practice complementary care.  They will provide or refer mothers for medical treatment when necessary, but they tend to try other approaches first.  For example, if testing showsthyroid issues, neurotransmitter imbalance or nutritional depletion, those needs may be addressed first.  Some specialize in helping women to wean off medications using alternative approaches.
Information about how care is provided is outlined here.
Valerie Balandra ARNP, BC is board certified as a psychiatric nurse practitioner as well as a holistic health practitioner.  Her areas of expertise are psychopharmacology,  natural treatments for depression, and adrenal fatigue, as well as utilizing neurotransmitter testing and targeted amino acid therapy to identify and treat neurotransmitter imbalances.  She works with clients from all over the United States, providing telephone consultations and ordering lab tests that patients conduct at home.


1. How long have you been in practice and how much experience do you have working with new mothers?  I have been in practice over 20 years. I have been seeing patients in the Mothers and Infants Program that have Post partum mood and substance abuse issues for over 8 years.
2. Please describe your clinical approach to women experiencing perinatal mood issues. My approach centers around laboratory testing and correction of hormonal, neurotransmitter, and nutritional imbalances. In severe cases I do prescribe medication but prefer natural remedies when possible, especially when breastfeeding is involved.
3. What types of issues do you see most often in new mothers?  Depressive and anxiety symptoms primarily from low serotonin levels. 
4. Please say a little about your testing procedures. Testing involves a simple urine or saliva sample for neurotransmitter or hormone levels (these can be performed at home, then mailed to the lab). Thyroid deficiency is also common during and after pregnancy.
5. Which treatments do you tend to favor for mild reactions? Definitely natural treatments. And severe reactions?  For severe depression with suicidal thoughts medication is necessary while we are getting to the root cause of the issue and correcting imbalances. 

6. What have been some of your most remarkable treatment stories? A 25 year old new mother with a previous diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder wanted to breastfeed but was told she couldn’t because she would need to go back on mood stabilizers. She had been stable off medication during her pregnancy and was now having mood swings after delivery. Test results showed an imbalance that was able to be corrected using amino acid therapy. Her mood stabilized and she was able to breastfeed her baby.


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