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Fort Collins Psychiatrist Reviews His Practice Philosophy...

By harrisjensen - Posted on 25 April 2012

Dr. Harris Jensen Combines Medication With Holistic Teaching

"Innovation And Dedication To My Patients Is What I'm About!"

by Harris Jensen, MD
1019 Remington Street, Fort Collins, Colorado, 80524

In trying to help people heal, the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates sought to understand the person, the mind and the body, and find ways to help the body heal itself.   The body can heal itself, but sometimes it needs a little help.
Today we know the brain and the mind and the person are all one and the same: they are aspects of the brain and how it works...which is miraculous.  But when the body, or the part of it called the brain, isn’t working well, the mind and the person suffer along as well.  They have to.  They are aspects of the body.  You have to take care of the body to help your mind heal.

At Our Office, We Are Personable
I endeavor to take such a wholistic approach in my practice of psychiatry.   I never label people, only the illnesses that are bothering them.  I often help people to quit labeling themselves.  The key to helping the body heal from illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder,or an  anxiety disorder involves gaining a deeper understanding of the person and their world and how the illness has changed over time.

I look at the “four legs” of the chair of life, to borrow a metaphor from Plato.

Each leg of the chair represents the biological, psychological, social, and environmental aspects of a person’s life. These are the vital issues in one’s life. 

If even one leg is knocked out, the chair doesn’t work well.  If you sit in a chair and find it unsteady with one leg find by experience that you can’t trust the stability of that chair  and have to you don’t fall!
In this manner, compassion and understanding one’s needs are the keys to a healing relationship between doctor and patient.

One key item to understand is that while the world is often harsh,  a person can learn to deal more effectively with it, using strengths more effectively, if the underlying key  “chemical imbalance” can be improved.  For example, once an antidepressant starts working, a person often reports naturally having good self esteem and feels safe to take risks and meet new people and work to better their living situation (all four legs are covered, strengthened, in the chair model.)

To help people feel comfortable coming to our office for medical care, we’ve done a number of things:

  • Our office is in a home office at 1019 Remington Street.  It is quiet, homey, yet private.   It is conveniently located just one block east of the International House Of Pancakes on college, next to CSU campus.
  • We have early and late hours to accomodate people's schedules: Mondays we work until 7pm and Fridays we start at 8 am.  People appreciate this!
  • Our staff strives to be sensitive and personable and understanding.
  • We offer coffee, tea and other condiments, as well as magazines and music and comfortable chair.
  • And did I forget someone?  We have two “happy greeter dogs” to meet you.  Elsker, a black labrador, has been with us since 2000, and will meet you with a wagging tail and a soft look in her brown eyes.  Charlie joined us in 2004 and is a “mellow lab,” greeting you with a wagging tail too.

.It is stressful for many to come to a doctor and deal with life’s troubles, and a number of therapists and psychiatrists in the country have found pets help people take their minds off themselves for a moment.  A dogs accepting and cheerful attitude can also be infectious!  And what better to complete the homey environment than a dog?

Another key issue is helping people with insurance issues!

Becky, our office manager, does a great job working with people on the many insurance questions that come up...even if you haven't started working with me.  Ask Becky your questions, and she'll do her best to help you sort out things in that jungle of insurance rules...

Sharon is our practice manager, keeping everybody working "in line," so the office is a "tight ship." 

Thanks for all your work and dedication, Becky and Sharon!  I couldn't have a medical practice without your help and I very much appreciate all your hard work and integrity.


The more relaxed and comfortable a person feels, the better able they are to tell me what is really going on so  I can find a way to help.  And that is important. Getting better also involves an accurate understanding of what is bothering you. Studies show patients getting better often don’t follow through with their medication or other strategies and doctors need to do a better job in forging stronger doctor patient relationships.

So our “homey environment” is all about helping you get better and stay better.

At Our Office, We Are On Time!

Doctors are notorious for being late.  Nowdays, everyone is busy. Recently a housewife was kept waiting at a doctor’s office, only to find that her child’s immunizations first needed another doctor’s signed recommendation.  She had two free hours every day, in the midst of caring for two children, a house, paying bills, cooking dinner, cleaning, answering letters. 

“My day was wasted!” she said.  

Everyone is busy, everyone’s time is valuable, so I endeavor to not rush patients, but start and finish on time.  We do much better than the national average of 20 minutes late.  Yet occasionally I am late due to patient emergencies!  I am sorry for that but I am sure you appreciate the kind of situations I can run into.  This is an unusual occurrance.  I appreciate you have a busy schedule too.     It takes teamwork!   Everybody in the office is working to help visits stay on time and within the scheduled time limit. Thank you for your understanding.  Thank you in advance for coming to your visit prepared, with a list of questions, if need be.

My followup visits are often brief, about 15 minutes.  I don't do "in depth" psychotherapy with brief visits, but solution focused teaching and life coaching.  I teach coping skills and new thinking strategies to help people get on top of problems they are facing.  Some people need longer visits of 45 to 60 minutes for in depth counseling, and for those situations I recommend they see me for medication followup and another person for counseling.  To help with life skills coaching I have about 30 self help CD's some people use to speed their learning curve.

The audio CD's are on topics like: power over depression, power over bipolar disorder, power for time managment, power over anxiety, power over social anxiety, power to build yourself up (self esteem building), power over obsessions, power for job hunting.

In all I have more than 72 hours of audio files to help you learn!

At Our Office, We Are Encouraging
I use the latest in medical science training in coming up with a treatment plan.  That means I have read my medical journals, and may offer medication, but I’m also trying to “tap in” to your wide array of strengths as well.
What kind of strengths?
ones people wish others would appreciate in themselves:

  • willingness to learn
  • interest in learning new information by listening
  • willingness to be a “team player” with the doctor
  • willingness to set new goals
  • willing to use to do lists to pursue those goals
  • daring to do a few new things
  • a desire to please yourself by achieving goals
  • an interest in thinking from a new point of view
  • taking an interest in what’s right in your life...your accomplishments
  • willing to tap into your abilities
  • an interest in setting smaller goals to get more achievments
  • willingness to ask others for help
  • being open to encouragment
  • consistency
  • following through on committments

Of course another strength is coming to appointments!  If you don't show up I can't help you!

People have a very large list of talents, abilities, accomplishments, experiences to tap into.  I am amazed daily by what I see my patients overcome.

My challenge is to find what medicine can allow that person to use their strengths effectively and tackle the current challenges before them and have some personally rewarding experinces that help them feel they are moving forward in a purposeful direction again.


A Wholistic Approach Based On Evidence, Not Dogma

Understanding how the brain works opens up great possibilities for new treatment approaches.

I work with people to use the mix of medicines, thinking strategies, and herbal supplements that "do the job" for controlling their mood or other issues.  The key is a focus on what works.  Nothing in life works the same way for everyone.  The goal is to learn what works by observing the impact of different strategies.  The picture above is of the Purple Coneflower.  It was used by Native Americans to treat some kinds of infections.  No well designed study shows it works.  However, one person I know used it to cure recurrent sinus infections.  So some people can find benefit from herbal medicines using an observation based approach.

One patient found great benefit from antidepressants, but the sexual side effects were unacceptable.  We used exercise four times per week, which increases nerve growth factor four times more in the presence of an antidepressant, to allow cutting down the antidepressant to one half to one fourth the usual level.  His mood was good and sexual side effects were gone.  Changing thinking strategies helped control anxiety.  Supplementation with fish oil helped provide the physical building blocks for nerves to rebuild nerve circuitry to reinforce his positive thinking and positive attitude.  He notices if he drops off his exercising, his anxiety gets worse, and he self corrects his behavior.  He's in charge of his mood!

At Our Office, We Stay Current With The Science

There has been an explosion in new medicines for a variety of concerns in recent years. 

There are now medications for fibromyalgia (lyrica), chronic fatigue (provigil), and a whole host of new medications for other concerns:

  • Depression (more than two dozen new medicines)
  • Bipolar Affective Disorder (more than a dozen new medicines)
  • Panic Disorder (more than a dozen new medicines)
  • Alcohol Dependence (antabuse, campral, revia)
  • Nicotine Dependence (chantix)
  • Borderline Personality Disorder (dialectic behavior  therapy and several new medicines)

Increasingly my own medical journals have gone beyond medical research alone and tapped in to an enormous base of hundreds of scientific journals  in the new field of brain science.  A leader in this field is the psychiatrist Eric Kanfield, winner of the Nobel Prize for his work in this field, defining the molecular basis of learning in neurons in the central nervous system.

You, as a result, will benefit from my readling in these fields.  I have many articles copied on my computer as well on paper in my office for your perusal.

These include articles from well respected peer-reviewed journals in science, such as:

  • Archives of General Psychiatry
  • American Journal of Psychiatry
  • Journal of the American Psychiatric Association
  • National Institutes of Mental Health
  • Natural History
  • Neuropsychopharmacology
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Nature Medicine
  • Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • The Journal of Neuroscience
  • Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health
  • Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience
  • American Family Physician
  • Archives of Internal Medicine
  • The New England Journal of Medicine
  • Molecular Psychiatry
  • Neurobiology
  • Annual Reviews of Neuroscience
  • Journal of American Medical Association
  • Psychiatric Annals
  • Science

Are you beginning to get a picture of the explosion of information about how the brain works? 

You don’t have to read these journals.  I have!  I’ll simply share with you the  “nuggets of gold” of information relevant to your care.  If you want to read some summaries of new science, I can refer you to web sites I’ve personally visited and found to have accurate information.

At Our Office, We Stay Current With The New Medical Information As Well

Medicines can help the brain heal from “chemical imbalances,”  or structural problems such as defective serotonin pumps, or inflammatory processes such as depression, and I will share with you scientific evidence for this fact. 

It is important you understand why we believe a medicine works and how we believe it works.  I will either show you the scientific study that proves a medication works, or I will show you how to find that study by doing an internet search yourself.  Now days, people want to take an active role in their medical care.

“Expert opinions” about what a medicine is good for is not enough now days, people want to see “proof” because the placebo effect and “tricks with statistics” can make herbal preparations, alternative and traditional medications look like they work for a given problem, when they don’t.  Everyone has heard stories of drug companies “covering up” research studies that showed a certain medicine didn’t work.

People want results and that’s what I’m here for!

As a trained physician, my approach is “driven by the evidence.”  The days of a doctor just making educated guesses is long gone.  We have evidence now to inform us of what medications work for what concerns, and likewise what counseling strategies work for what specific concerns.  We even have a deeper understanding of the nature of the underlying brain structures that are not working right.

For instance, with depression, a major factor in depression is thought to be with early life stress activating the otherwise dormant s allele of the promoter region of the SERT gene (SLC 6A4), which leads the serotonin nerves to make defective serotonin reuptake  transporters (SERT), thereby causing the serotonin nerves to be ineffective in reabsorbing serotonin it has released.  This is a major way serotonin nerves “recycle” serotonin by reabsorbing and repackaging it so its readily available to be released again. (1)

Another study found antidepressants stop the reduction in serotonin 1A receptors due to stress, allowing serotonin nerves to better respond to stress and calm down the depression center in the brain (thalamus) and fear center (amygdala).  This also allows the brain to more dynamically respond to “natural remedies,” too.  Exercise releases about 4 times more nerve growth factor in rats that used an antidepressant compared to rats that ran 2 kilomoters per night and didn’t use an MAO inhibitor antidepressant.  I have a number of patients using daily exercise and medication and exposure to sunlight to “beat back” their depression, when medication alone didn’t give good enough results.

The Information Age has truly brought about much healing in the area of mental health by allowing us to understand our brain more effectively.

At Our Office We Believe In Using The Latest Technology

None of that does any good, however, if you are such a bundle of nerves you don’t feel comfortable opening up to your doctor!  So we have our home office and our greeter dogs and recently we’ve added a web site, “Good Day Journal.”

This web site offers a whole host of information to enlighten and encourage you as you seek to overcome your adversities.  I’m writing new articles every week about what people are doing and can do to take more control of things in their life, and often these articles refer to recent research in medical science and brain science journals.

Some people learn best by listening.  So hearing it once from a doctor is enough.  But they’d like to listen to an article on the topic to learn things more deeply now that their curiosity is up.  But they don’t have the energy to read.  This is very many people!  I’m an encouraging “passive learning” by adding audio files at the end of many of my articles, including this one, so those who want to can simply “listen and learn.”

I’ve had great feedback on my instructional audio files. 

Others need to dig deeper and learn better by reading.  So they can read things more deeply at The Good Day Journal.  A number of articles have references to the scientific journals quoted.

And still others learn more by use of multimedia.  So at The Good Day Journal I put some articles in pdf format or in audio format and have one relaxation movie with more on the way.

Currently there is a free CD for learning relaxation methods there...there are several tracks to download where you can listen to me provide guided relaxation training.  A number of patients have told me this was useful.  In the near future I’ll offer more audio files for guided training in other forms of relaxation and stress managment...not that this will ever take the place of psychotherapy.  But many people use CD’s to learn, just look at all the trainning CD’s on different topics next time you visit Barnes and Noble!

The most powerful tool for me to help your feedback!  You need to be satisfied I am understanding what is going on and we are helping you move forward taking charge of different issues in your life.  You are entitled to give me feedback  we need to focus more on one area or another.  You are entitled that you need to feel satisfied I am giving you the medication and teaching you need to overcome your problems.  I love feedback!

Mostly I have learned from my patients.  They told me they needed more than medicines.  They needed bigger plans to control their mood and anxiety concerns, plans that included medication and better coping skills.  They also had limited time and energy.  They needed me on time with new services!  I’ve done my best to respond and I’m always looking for ways to improve.  Thank you for considering using my practice...and thanks for your feedback!

Harris Jensen, MD

1. “Influence of life stress on depression: moderation by a polymorphism in the 5-HTT gene. Caspi, A, et. al. Science 2003, 301:386-389.  As quoted in, "Recent findings in the pathophysiology of depression," Charles B. Nemeroff, MD, PhD,  p. 7, Focus: The Journal of Lifelong Learning in Psychiatry, Winter, 2008, 6:1.