Dr. David Gersten MD, Psychiatrist

Dr. David Gersten MD

Psychiatrist | Psychiatry

187 Calle Magdalena 208 Encinitas Ca, 92024



David Gersten, M.D. specializes in Integrative Psychiatry. He has utilized amino acid therapy for 30 years. Whether treating with medications or amino acids his decisions are based on comprehensive nutritional and metabolic lab work. His approach is holistic - integrating body, mind, and spirit. "I don't believe in splitting psychotherapy from physical treatments. I come from an era in which psychiatry residencies were half psychopharmacology and half psychotherapy. The psychotherapy I utilize (which starts with non-judgmental listening) involves mental fitness techniques (interactive guided imagery, use of the breath, and meditation). Guided imagery is similar to hypnosis."

Education and Training

University of Colorado Medical Shool MD 1975

UCSD Residency in Psychiatry 1978

Board Certification

American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology

Provider Details

Dr. David Gersten MD
Dr. David Gersten MD's Expert Contributions
  • Is schizophrenia hereditary?

    Schizophrenia has a strong genetic component. There is a study called "The adopted away study," which has been observing identical twins who were adopted to different families at birth. The study has looked at many illnesses for decades. If one identical twin has schizophrenia, there is a 50% chance that the other identical twin, raised in a completely different family and environment, will develop schizophrenia. That tells us 2 things: 1) There is a strong genetic component to schizophrenia, and 2) If 50% are not developing schizophrenia, it means that there is something other than genetics that plays a big role. READ MORE

  • Does my son need to go through some kind of counselling during my divorce proceedings?

    Very good question. Taking your son to a counselor could be quite helpful. But..."To make sure he does not get emotionally affected..." You son WILL be emotionally affected by a divorce. That's only natural. If your son establishes a relationship with a therapist/counselor, he can openly start to share his concerns...and if he gets overwhelmed by emotion, he will have that healing relationship established. You haven't said how old your son is, and that is important in terms of what kind of counseling and counselor is appropriate. I spent 9 years in child psychiatry. I believe that play therapy is the best modality for children. Somewhere between 9 and 12, interactive guided imagery (at least in my practice) becomes the modality I would use. Interactive guided imagery is essentially "inner play." READ MORE

  • Is there a difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?

    A psychiatrist is a medical doctor like any other specialist (cardiologist, internist, neurologist, surgeon, etc), so they first go through college, then medical school, followed by a one-year internship. After internship each specialty has Residency training, including Psychiatry Residency. So psychiatrists do have training in all of medicine the same as other doctors. I, for one, worked as a GP for several years. Up until 25 years ago psychiatry residency training was half psychopharmacology and half psychotherapy. Now, psychiatry residencies are almost entirely lacking in psychotherapy training. Psychologists, like psychiatrists, finish college. They then get either doctorate degrees (PhD and PsyD) or masters degrees. Their training is heavily on the psychotherapy side. Many also have a great deal of training in complex Neuro-Psychological Testing. READ MORE

  • I feel negative most of the time. Is it a sign to be worried about?

    What I see in the question is a negative spiral. The question is: "Should I be worried about feeling negative?" Awareness without judgment is deeply healing. If a person can notice that they are feeling negative without reacting to that thought with another negative thought they will start to feel less negative. In terms of "worry" this is not a sign that a person has a major mental illness. Learning meditation or cognitive behavioral therapy will help tame the mind. READ MORE

  • How should a person requiring psychiatric help be approached?

    Sit down to talk with your friend in a setting that the two of you are used to. Don't start talking about psychiatry. Tell him that you've noticed that he seems a bit out of balance since the divorce. Let him talk. Listen. Don't judge. He may start with denial, like, "I'm fine. There's no problem." So, you gently continue with, "You look great (if that is true), but you seem depressed, out of sorts, not the same old cheerful friend." Give him a chance to open up to you first. When the time is right, mention psychiatric help. READ MORE

  • Is the need for having sex everyday abnormal?

    Oh dear. At 32 you are not yet in your sexual prime. Many people desire sex once...or twice a day. Your husband may have a much lower libido than you do. Or...many men approach sex as a performance. His "job" is to help you reach orgasm. If that doesn't happen, he (men in general) may feel like a failure. He may be tired, stressed out from work. I have found that an open, creative conversation works wonders. The issue is about communication. From what you've written, there is nothing wrong with you. READ MORE

  • Is depression a sign of madness?

    Madness or psychosis is a major break with reality, and may include hallucinations and delusions. Depression can be so severe that it reaches psychotic proportions, and should be treated as a psychiatric emergency. His depression is a reaction a response to an overwhelming stress. He may be traumatized and not know it. The biochemistry of trauma involves the freeze response, the third survival mechanism after fight and flight. A person who is still traumatized may feel emotionally numb, emotionally immobilized, and disconnected from self and others. READ MORE

  • Is bipolar disorder hereditary?

    Bipolar disorder is greatly overdiagnosed. True bipolar disorder has a genetic component. In the adopted-away studies, identical twins who were separated at birth and raised in different families go into a data base. In the case of bipolar disorder, if one twin has the disorder 50% of the time the other twin will have the disorder. For prevention, in my practice I do very extensive nutritional/metabolic testing. Two of the biggest issues that contribute to ALL illness are inflammation and toxicity. Chronic digestive problems wreak havoc with total body biochemistry. By addressing issues of a healthy life-style, you can make it much less likely that a bipolar gene will get expressed. READ MORE

  • Vivid daydreams

    There is nothing wrong with vivid daydreams...unless they are interfering with life. A person with a vivid imagination is usually a creative person. If this is a source of distraction or loss of focus, you may be deficient in norepinephrine in the brain. L-tyrosine is the amino acid that turns into dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, but you have to take P5P (pyridoxal-5-phosphate) with it. Get an enteric form of P5P. READ MORE

  • Is memory loss a side effect of schizoaffective disorder treatment?

    If your father does suffer from schizophrenia, when did it first begin? Late onset schizophrenia is rare. Schizoaffective disorder, in my opinion, is a controversial diagnosis. But I'd need to know more about date of onset, symptoms, and medications he is taking. READ MORE

  • Can ADHD ever be cured with treatment?

    Kids with ADHD often end up on Adderall or Ritalin for life, but here is the most common cause-and-effect steps: 1) numerous childhood infections, especially middle ear, which are 2) treated with antibiotics over and over again. 3) the antibiotics kill of billions of friendly intestinal bacteria, which 4) allows the normal amount of intestinal yeast to explode. 5) This then can lead to all kinds of digestive problems and leaky gut syndrome with 6) systemic yeast and 7) delayed IgG food allergies. All of these steps can be corrected. Remember: the Gut-Brain connection is real, and powerful. READ MORE

  • Sudden mental fatigue--what can it be?

    Symptoms are almost always the tip of the iceberg. Thyroid or adrenal problems can cause this. I use plasma amino acid testing, urine organic acids (and sometimes plasma neurotransmitter testing) to find out what is going on with brain chemistry and total body chemistry. Your issue, "not able to put as much mental and emotional effort in tasks" sounds like norepinephrine deficiency, although it's guess work without having more info. Low norepinephrine is usually associated with impaired memory and concentration. The amino acid L-tyrosine is the nutrient that turns into dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. It needs to be taken with P5P (pyridoxal-5-phosphate). I prefer Montiff brand P5P, which is called TriPhosB. I don't know your location, but New York will not allow 3 or 4 nutritional tests to be done. READ MORE

  • Is negative thinking a disease?

    The nature of the mind is to churn out thoughts. The average person runs 5,000 random thoughts per day, 35,000 per week, 1,825,000 per year. The faster the mind moves the more anxious and stressed a person is. Very rarely is this a disease. Neurotransmitters can be involved (dopamine, norepinenephrine and/or serotonin), along with GABA (our most calming neurotransmitter). Low grade inflammation is often an issue. In situations like this I usually combine physical with mental treatments. (meditation, use of the breath, mental imagery). I've spent a career trying to figure out what the mind is. Oh, hmm I forgot something. I wrote a book for the POWs of Operation Desert Storm, and re-wrote it last year. It was part of military training for army and navy in Operation Desert Storm. The POW Survival Guide will be re-named and briefly re-written. The military is no longer interested in this information. It's on Amazon. It is high on technique, low on theory, and the most important thing it teaches is how to establish "Mental Home Base," a place you can return to internally over and over again, instead of constantly churning out thoughts. Most thoughts, by the way, are pretty neutral, even if a person is feeling negative. Affirmations are useful, but not as important as mantra meditation, and regular exercise is important. READ MORE

Areas of expertise and specialization

Depression, Anxiety, Marital Therapy, PTSD. Rx: amino acid therapy as part of complete nutritional evaluation; psychopharmacology, strategic counseling, interactive guided imagery, peak performance.

Dr. David Gersten MD's Practice location

David Gersten, MD

187 Calle Magdalena -
Encinitas, Ca 92024
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New patients: 760-633-3063
Fax: 760-487-7737

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Patient Experience with Dr. Gersten


Based on 10 reviews

Dr. David Gersten MD has a rating of 3 out of 5 stars based on the reviews from 10 patients. FindaTopDoc has aggregated the experiences from real patients to help give you more insights and information on how to choose the best Psychiatrist in your area. These reviews do not reflect a providers level of clinical care, but are a compilation of quality indicators such as bedside manner, wait time, staff friendliness, ease of appointment, and knowledge of conditions and treatments.

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