Mental health has emerged as one of the biggest concerns for people around the world today. The growing prevalence of mental health issues is probably the reason behind the changing mindset. The pandemic has brought even more attention to mental wellness because stress and anxiety are rampant worldwide. The good thing is that patients are more open about these diseases now and no longer see them as a stigma. Further, the treatment approach has come a long way, as patients and practitioners do not see medication as the only remedy for mental health issues like chronic depression, bipolar disease, anxiety, and stress.
But countless people end up suffering more only because they fail to recognise and accept the problem in the first place. If you want to overcome such health issues, recognising them is the first step. Following this, you need to devise a treatment plan that works for the long haul. With mental wellness, sustaining it is a more daunting challenge than securing it in the first place. Patients overcome the disease with treatment and develop the symptoms again down the line. A therapy that offers lasting relief is ideal for treating it for good. Functional medicine is a solution that covers you on these fronts. Let us explain how it can take you a step closer to long-term mental wellness.
Key principles of functional medicine
Functional medicine is a form of integrative medicine that differs a lot from conventional therapies. It incorporates factors like lifestyle practices, environmental factors, and the genetics of a patient to create a personalised treatment plan. There is nothing like one-size-fits-all with this treatment approach, as every patient is seen as a unique individual. Additionally, this therapy takes a holistic approach to healthcare, looking for the root cause of the medical issue rather than treating the visible symptoms. The specialist reviews your medical history, genetics, hormones, toxicity levels, and other factors to provide a plan that addresses them. The treatment goes beyond medication and includes dietary enhancements, nutritional supplements, exercise, lifestyle changes, and neurotoxin removal.
The standard medical approach is not apt
The key reason for the functional approach being apt for mental wellness is that it differs from the standard approach to treatment. The latter works by treating the symptoms of a mental health condition instead of finding the actual cause and addressing it. If you suffer from depression or anxiety, your physician may prescribe medication to lift your mood and improve your mental well-being. But the therapy will only suppress your symptoms instead of reaching their root cause and eliminating it for good. Mental diseases are often the result of chemical imbalances in the brain, and medication cannot restore them in the long run. Moreover, you can expect side effects such as constipation, nausea, and loss of libido with prolonged use of medications.
The functional approach looks beyond symptoms
Conventional psychiatric treatment mainly addresses the symptoms of a mental health condition. Medication may initially help to suppress these symptoms, but they are likely to come back once you stop taking it. Likewise, you may experience the same symptoms for different mental disorders, like stress and depression. The root causes of these conditions are diverse, and treatment does not help when you address only the superficial symptoms. A doctor of functional medicine looks beyond the symptoms and reaches the root cause. They provide you with a proper diagnosis and personalised treatment. With this, you have better chances of securing mental wellness in the long run.
A holistic approach is ideal for mental wellness
Functional medicine takes a holistic approach as it emphasises that everything within your system is connected. Your mental wellness is affected by your physical health, and vice versa. For example, your gut health is connected with the development of mental disorders such as depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. Research shows that problems with neurotransmitter production begin in the gut even before affecting the brain. Further, brain dysfunction is linked with physical issues like nutritional deficiency, high blood sugar, toxicity, and other dietary factors. A functional approach recognises these complex connections and examines the factors affecting the patient’s condition. Conversely, the conventional approach only focuses on the disease itself.
Breaking medication dependence
The best thing about using functional medicine for treating mental health issues is that it enables you to overcome long-term medication dependence. Medication only addresses the symptoms, not the cause of the disorder. Neglecting the root cause means you may spend years relying on medication without scratching the surface of the real issue. For example, the cause of a mental illness could be a hormone imbalance, inflammation in the body, addictive biochemistry, or even the inability to detoxify. Medicines work on minimising symptoms without getting down to these underlying causes, leaving the diseases untreated forever. The bigger risk is that it can even induce more symptoms eventually. Additionally, side effects are always a concern when you use pharmaceutical drugs in the long run.
Treatment focuses on overall health
Another reason to choose functional medicine over conventional psychiatric treatments is that it focuses on overall health. Functional medicine considers all the factors that affect mental wellness. Further, it explores a wide range of interventions according to your needs. These include a therapeutic diet, counselling, nutritional supplementation, lifestyle changes, stress management, and detoxification programmes. The aim is not just to alleviate the symptoms but to cure the disease. The benefits of these therapies extend beyond treating the condition itself. They work wonders for your overall health and take you a step closer to holistic well-being and longevity.
Psychiatric disorders are reaching epidemic proportions, affecting people of all age groups and from all walks of life. There is a need to understand the gravity of the problem and find better ways to deal with it. Functional medicine holds great promise as it is holistic and natural. It works for everyone and does not burn a hole in your wallet. It has the potential to change lives, as it gives you better control and saves you from dependence on medications.
Ellen Diamond, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.