Integrative Psychiatry is a mental health approach that uses both conventional western medicine and alternative approach.
To properly understand our approach to mental health care let me begin with some history of the field.
Over the years advances in neurology and research have simplified the way psychologist, psychiatrist and others diagnose and treat mental health problems. In over one hundred years of mental health treatment the symptoms and behaviors associated with certain mental conditions have seen little change.
Treatment approaches however have seen considerable change. When patients first began reclining on couches of psychoanalytic psychiatrists, the depressed folks talked about their past. This lead the founders of psychology and psychiatry to believe that issues that began in childhood caused many mental health problems. But questions were still not answered. Why would a bad relationship with your mother cause the appetite loss and depression, especially when the eating problems only started several months prior to the session? It became clear that many mental health problems also had a physical component that involved changes in concentration, sleep, appetite, speech pattern, energy level, perceptions, and motivation.
Neurotransmitters & Integrative Psychiatry
The picture became easier to understand when chemicals in the brain "neurotransmitters" were discovered. The brain consists of billions of neurons or cells that must communicate with each other. The communication between neurons maintains all body functions. The communication between neurons is controlled by the brains type and level of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemical substances that control and create signals in the brain both between and within neurons. Without neurotransmitters, there would be no communication between neurons. The heart wouldn't give a signal to beat, arms and legs wouldn't know to move, etc.
As we discovered more about neurotransmitters, we began to identify which neurotransmitters controlled certain bodily functions or which were related to certain emotional/psychiatric difficulties. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter, was found to be related to body temperature and the onset of sleep. Research also identified serotonin as related to depression and later a variety of mental health conditions such as anorexia and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
As research on neurotransmitters continued studies between neurotransmitters and mental conditions revealed strong connections between amounts of certain neurotransmitters in the brain and the presence of specific psychiatric conditions. Neurological research has identified over 50 neurotransmitters in the brain. Research also tells us that several neurotransmitters are related to mental health problems -Serotonin, Dopamine, Norepinephrine, GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid), Glutamate, Phenylethylamine, etc.
The technical aspects of neurotransmitter levels, the psychiatric symptoms they produce, and how medications have been developed to raise and lower the brain levels of these neurotransmitters can be very complicated. For many years mental health professional have used the term "chemical imbalance" to explain the need for medications that are used to treat mental health conditions. This simple and commonly used explanation recognizes that the condition is a medical problem and that it can be treated with medication. The "chemical imbalance" explanation also reflects the overall theme for treatment - identifying what neurotransmitters are involved in the clinical symptom picture and with medication, attempting to return that neurotransmitter level back to the "normal range".
Why Choose Integrative Psychiatry?
Your emotional health is a combination of attitude, personality, support systems and your brain's chemical balance or neurotransmitter levels. Positive attitudes and a healthy personality help us through life's difficulties and a good support system of family and friends is also valuable during times of trouble. Despite having these resources, there are times when coping with your experiences and life events changes our neurotransmitter status.
We are all at risk for changes in our brain chemistry. Most commonly, we will experience depression, anxiety, or stress reactions. As our neurotransmitters change, they bring with them additional symptoms, behaviors and sensations that add to our ongoing difficulties. Recognizing these changes is an important part of the treatment and returning your life to normal and reducing stress.
A variety of conditions and circumstances encountered in life can produce changes n our brain chemistry. These changes can then create mental health problems. We have known for years that chemical substances in the body can become unregulated.
When treating these imbalances, first it is important to know what the imbalances are. Our path to restoring communication within the nervous system begins with testing neurotransmitter levels. Once imbalances are identified, programs can be developed that specifically target those imbalances. Challenging symptoms such as low mood, anxiety and sleep difficulties are incredibly complex, and fall under the control of many different neurotransmitters and hormones. Neurotransmitter testing allows us to pinpoint which of the many parameters related to a condition may be responsible. Neurotransmitter testing is simple, affordable, and requires only urine collection.
The neurotransmitter test is not diagnostic for any particular condition. However, certain neurotransmitter imbalances are associated with various clinical symptoms. The value of testing urinary neurotransmitters has a long medical history and is rapidly becoming an increasingly accepted method of assessing a patient's health.
After a patient's neurotransmitter imbalances have been identified through testing, the next step is to address the imbalances. There are a number of ways to go about manipulating neurotransmitter levels in the interest of symptom resolution and neurochemical rebalancing. Two effective approaches include pharmaceutical intervention and amino acid supplementation.
The pharmaceutical industry has developed hundreds of drugs designed to treat a whole host of nervous system and psychiatric disorders. The vast majority of these drugs work directly on the process of neurotransmission. These medications have been proven to be effective for reducing or eliminating symptoms in many clinical conditions, however, they fail to address low neurotransmitter stores long-term. A major drawback of many neuro-active drugs is that they only affect the transportation or release of existing pools of neurotransmitters in the body. If the diet does not provided sufficient amounts of neurotransmitter precursors, then there may not be enough neurotransmitters to properly relay signals within the nervous system even if drugs are used.
The use of I.V. Ketamine has recieved great attention lately for its use in drug resistant depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mood disorders. Here at our clinic we have senn some early success" with its use which we are currently administering. Why not come in for a consult with Ms. Kim Blend ARNP to discuss its use and benefits in your particular situation.
Another means of addressing neurotransmitter imbalance is with amino acid precursors. This method significantly differs from the pharmaceutical approach, and the concept is rather simple. Considering that many clinical conditions maybe the result of a neurotransmitter deficiency, amino acid therapy directly addresses this issue by supplementing the diet with specific neurotransmitter precursors, enabling the body to synthesize its own neurotransmitters. While the concept appears simple, the application is somewhat more complex.
Simply introducing a broad-based amino acid supplement into the diet does not significantly affect neurotransmitter levels. Successful outcomes are dependent upon a more targeted approach, one that employs sufficient doses of the necessary precursors at the right time and in the absence of amino acids that would affect absorption.
Neurotransmitter-related diseases are complex. They are dependent on nervous system function as a whole, rather than any one particular component of the system. The key to achieving successful outcomes with amino acids is in knowing which neurotransmitters to target and what ingredients to target them with.
We have found this treatment to be very effective not only in relieving symptoms but in promoting optimal health and functioning. Our goal in working with our patient partners is to offer an integrated team approach to health and well-being, allowing all to feel their best while protecting their long term physical, emotional and spiritual health.