trichI recently received a call from a client that illustrates an interesting point when using amino acid therapy along with medications that work with neurotransmitters such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or selective serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) for trichotillomania. This client came to us after not being able to control the urge to pull after many rounds of various medications and therapy. She was still taking fluoxetine (Prozac) when she started working with us and wanted to remain on that medication.

After a couple months, we were able to help her completely eliminate her urges to pull, and she was understandably ecstatic. However, she had recently missed several doses of her medication and the urge to pull came back. She wanted to know why that happened; here’s the story.

Everybody has a threshold level of neurotransmitter function that they must attain to be symptom free. Stay above that threshold and life is good; drop below that threshold and experience symptoms.

When we give the body the nutrients it needs to make more neurotransmitters, drugs that work on these chemical messengers have more to work with and they will work better. However, if neurotransmitter levels are just above the threshold on a given combination of amino acids and medications, missing either (or both) of them will cause a return of symptoms. The long-term solution is to provide the body more building blocks in the form of the proper balance of amino acids to raise the level back above the threshold necessary for proper function. A person may also choose to continue taking their medication, but as we’ve discussed many times in this blog, that only makes the problem worse and actually increases the need for amino acids over time.

That is exactly what we did – we increased her amino acids levels just a little bit and her urges to pull were gone within a few days. Without understanding the underlying neurotransmitter imbalance, one may make the erroneous conclusion that the urge to pull was due to a need for the medication. However, trichotillomania (or any other disorder associated with neurotransmitter imbalance) is not due to a drug deficiency; they are due to neurotransmitter dysfunction. Only be correcting the underlying neurotransmitter imbalance can a lasting solution be found.