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Integrative Psychiatry

The Benefits of Integrative Psychiatry

Written by Integrative Health Daily Staff

Integrative psychiatry benefits individuals by offering a comprehensive approach to mental health that goes beyond traditional methods of  medication only management. Mainstream psychiatry, familiar to most clients, typically includes quick follow-ups (usually 15 minutes or less) to assess medication effectiveness and current symptoms. Initial appointments might include basic lab tests, a mental symptom evaluation, and a review of psychiatric history. In contrast, integrative psychiatry incorporates a more thorough evaluation of the whole body. This approach may include a physical assessment, extensive lab tests, genetic testing, and more, aiming to identify and address the root causes of mental health issues and not just treating symptoms.

 

Mainstream Care

An integrative approach to psychiatric care is becoming more mainstream due to the significant benefits patients are seeing. Psychology Today reports that even the American Psychological Association (APA) is giving more attention to whole-body connections in care. Within functional and integrative psychiatry, recommendations often involve lifestyle and medical changes that can improve both mental and physical health.

 

What is Integrative Psychiatry?

Integrative healthcare is similar to functional health, focusing on identifying the root cause of issues and treating the whole person. Treatments can include not only medications but also vitamin supplementation, herbal remedies, and additional therapies such as meditation, acupuncture, massage, and more. Importantly, integrative care does not separate mental complaints, such as anxiety, from physical health, emphasizing the interconnectedness of the entire body.

 

Understanding Contributing Factors

For example, an integrative psychiatric provider understands that various systems can contribute to symptoms like anxiety and depression. Factors considered in integrative health evaluations may include thyroid dysfunction, hormonal imbalances, gastrointestinal issues, nutrient deficiencies, toxicities, viral diseases, genetic predispositions, and more. One study found that having gastrointestinal problems increases the probability of having depression and anxiety in the sample tested. By including these factors in an evaluation, root causes can be identified and addressed more precisely, reducing the need for unnecessary medication.

 

Physical Health and Mental Symptoms

Here are some examples of how physical health issues can affect mental symptoms:

  • Low Vitamin D: Low mood and fatigue
  • Thyroid Imbalance: Anxiety and mood disturbances
  • Viral Infections: Anxiety, mood disturbances, and poor focus
  • Anemia: Depression and fatigue
  • Poor Methylation: Anxiety, depression, fatigue, poor focus

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When treating younger patients, it is crucial to evaluate these factors early due to their potential impact on body and brain development. For instance, if a thyroid imbalance in a young patient is misdiagnosed, it can lead to ongoing issues affecting growth and development, potentially causing detrimental effects if left untreated.

 

Specialty Tests of an Integrative Provider

Several specialty tests that an integrative psychiatric provider might include in their evaluation are:

  • Genetic Evaluation 
  • Gastrointestinal Tests
  • Food Sensitivity Tests
  • Hormonal Evaluation 
  • Lifestyle/Nutrition Evaluation

 

Depending on the presenting symptoms, your provider will determine which tests are appropriate.

 

Benefits of Integrative Psychiatry

Benefits seen with integrative providers can include decreased medication usage, controlled symptoms through lifestyle changes and supplementation, and a thorough understanding of one’s genetic makeup and body systems. Working with an integrative psychiatric healthcare provider is an excellent way to uncover the root cause of your symptoms and develop a comprehensive treatment plan.

 

Conclusion

Integrative psychiatric care benefits individuals by offering a comprehensive approach that addresses the root causes of mental health issues, considering the whole person rather than just their symptoms. By incorporating various evaluations and treatments, such as genetic testing, lifestyle changes, and holistic therapies, integrative psychiatry provides a more personalized and effective approach to mental health care.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, consider seeking an integrative psychiatric provider. They can offer a thorough evaluation and develop a tailored treatment plan that goes beyond traditional medication management, focusing on your overall well-being. Take the first step towards better mental and physical health by finding an integrative psychiatric provider today. Your journey to holistic wellness starts here.

Cantarero-Prieto, D., & Moreno-Mencia, P. (2022). The effects of gastrointestinal disturbances on the onset of depression and anxiety. *PLoS One, 17*(1), e0262712. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0262712

Ahmad, S. (2023, June 2). Is integrative psychiatry going mainstream? *Psychology Today*. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/balanced/202306/is-integrative-psychiatry-going-mainstream

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