What would you say about a physician who prescribes an antibiotic for a cough without obtaining evidence of a bacterial infection? Or a physician prescribing thyroid medication for a complaint of fatigue without checking your thyroid gland? All too often, the practice of psychiatry mimics this approach daily. Patients are given medications designed to enhance the activity of serotonin, norepinephrine, or dopamine- without ever checking these levels. How is this right? These are “neurotransmitters” which are neurochemicals responsible for controlling your mood, sleep, concentration, and many other functions. When it comes to neurotransmitters, a simple urine test can provide this critical information. So how important is this really? One simple example is anxiety. Many patients are given benzodiazepines (like alprazolam) for anxiety. Benzodiazepines bind to GABA receptors to trick your brain into believing that you have more GABA (a neurotransmitter), but what if you have sufficient (or excessive) GABA and the real problem is excess adrenalin (a neurotransmitter)? If you don’t fix the problem, then you will be sentenced by a lifetime of taking a benzodiazepine to try and manage anxiety that will never go away! This type of testing is readily available and its use is supported by several studies done through organizations like the National Institute of Health. Make sure your psychiatrist performs this essential testing in order to guide your treatment.