Integrative Medicine for Mental Health
"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food."
Integrative Medicine for Mental Health (IMMH) is a whole body approach to mental health care. If you are not satisfied with conventional, one-size-fits-all approach to health care, integrative medicine may be a good choice for you as it includes the traditional medical model with complementary and alternative methods. In this way, IMMH is a truly holistic approach to care that applies a combination of traditional, evidence-based psychotherapy, somatic therapy, and nutritional and dietary interventions to provide clients like you with the most comprehensive treatment model possible. In a IMMH treatment model, you will work collaboratively with your therapist to identify interventions that improve your mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing.
IMMH methods are applied with one key rule in mind: every client is unique. Certified Integrative Mental Health Practitioners utilize many different tools to promote holistic wellness, including psychotherapy, laboratory testing, biopsychosocial assessments, food mood diaries, and more to build a comprehensive understanding of each client.
Frequently Used Interventions and Assessment Techniques
The following interventions will be provided by your therapist or a referral with a partner practitioner will be made on your behalf.
Integrative psychotherapy is often a foundational element of IMMH and involves a therapist using a combination of evidence-based counseling modalities to address clients mental and emotional issues. Modalities and techniques that may be applied include mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy, narrative therapy, solutions focused brief therapy, motivational interviewing, cognitive processing, or strengths based.
Laboratory analysis may be used to evaluate and treat underlying biomedical issues which may include nutritional deficiencies, food allergies, infections, toxicities, and genetic disorders. By focusing on an individual's unique genetic, biochemical, and nutritional status, customized treatment plans can be implemented to provide better wellness outcomes.
Nutritional and dietary modifications are a cornerstone of IMMH. The connection between what we eat and how we feel is significant. IMMH recognizes this and consequently incorporates dietary changes as a foundational part of developing whole body wellness.
Supplements and herbal medicine are often a necessary part of achieving optimal health. The standard american diet is known as the "SAD" diet for a reason. The majority of Americans are deficient in one or more nutrients, leading to a host of mental and physical conditions. Furthermore, Americans are vastly over medicated and these prescriptions often exacerbate mental and physical distress due to unpleasant side effects. This doesn't need to be your reality. Herbal medicine, supplement protocols, and lifestyle changes can support elimination of some medications and produce equal or more effective results without the side effects.
Somatic therapies such as massage, acupuncture, reki, hydrotherapies, exercise, and dry brushing are highly beneficial and complementary to the treatment and support of our mental health. Many of these techniques are highly effective at supporting detoxification and decreasing stress.
What Mental health Issues can be Treated with an Integrative Approach?
The goal of an integrative approach to mental health is to find the most appropriate combination of treatments, both conventional and complementary, that safely and effectively address distressing symptoms by addressing the root cause. This is done while taking into account personal preferences, cultural beliefs, and financial constraints of the client.
Research has shown a very real and significant connection between lifestyle habits and mental health disorders. These lifestyle habits include everything from exercise and dietary routines to sleep hygiene and medications. Nutritional and integrative medicine, especially when paired with psychotherapy, can work alongside and even replace medications to alleviate symptoms and support mental health.
Mental health issues often alleviated with an integrative approach include:
Chronic Stress & PTSD
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
Who Benefits from an Integrative Approach?
Everyone! However, it is particularly appropriate for women. No only are women more predisposed to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, but, physically, women experience monthly fluctuations in hormones and have several phases of life that are often physically and emotionally taxing. For example, "childbearing-aged women are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of poor nutrition on mood because pregnancy and lactation are major nutritional stressors to the body. The depletion of nutrient reserves throughout pregnancy and a lack of recovery postpartum may increase a woman's risk of depression."
Another diagnosable mental health disorder that involves both physical and psychological distress is premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Research shows that a higher protein diet paired with aerobic activity and supplements including B vitamins and magnesium can ease the emotional and physical effects of PMDD. These are examples of the many ways IMMH can provide you with more holistic, effective treatment that opens the door to better health.
If you are interested in working with me to develop an individualized protocol and self care plan uniquely designed to enhance your physical and mental well being, contact me to schedule an appointment!
How it Works
1. Book an Appointment. Not ready yet? Contact me to have any questions or concerns answered and schedule by phone, text, or email.
2. Complete paperwork. Upon booking your appointment, you'll be invited to electronically complete intake paperwork and a comprehensive biopsychosocial assessment. This holistic assessment is the first step towards working together to isolate specific goals and develop an action plan, so it is important to take your time and hold space for self-reflection.
3. Attend your first IMMH telehealth session. Session length is typically 50 min, but your initial intake session may extend to 90 min. During your first appointment, we’ll dive into deep into conversation focused on your unique goals and together we'll determine best approach and interventions to meet your needs.
4. Follow your IMMH Plan. Shortly after the first session, you'll be sent a IMMH plan that lists detailed action steps and protocols to get you started on your journey to better health. From there, we'll meet weekly or bi weekly to check your progress and make alterations to your initial plan. We'll continue to work together until you have a consistent self-care routine, your mental health issues have subsided, and your physical and emotional well being is stabilized at a level with which you're happy.
5. Use Text Support. You'll walk away from each session with homework, strategies, and specific take-aways to implement at a pace that is comfortable and manageable for you. If you have quick questions about your protocol between sessions, support is available via text during normal business hours.