It is time for a new approach to psychiatry! According to the CDC, about 25% of the U.S. adults have a mental illness and nearly 50% will develop a mental illness during their lifetime (CDC Mental Illness Surveillance Among Adults in the United States, 2011). Depression, anxiety, and other problems cause suffering and disrupt work, love and play. Why are so many people suffering? How is medicine responding to this health crisis?
Western or conventional medicine serves an essential role in our lives. It provides us with excellent solutions to acute problems, such as a broken bone or appendicitis. It is less effective at managing chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression—some of the greatest threats to the health of our nation (CDC Chronic Disease and Health Promotion, 2012). This is part of the reason for the increasing popularity and use of complementary and alternative medicine in the U.S. (Harris, 2000).
Western medicine relies on a reductionist approach: it breaks down complex problems into parts and studies them part-by-part. We have learned a lot using this approach. Conventional psychiatry does wonders in some situations, such as stopping a panic attack. However, problems such as depression, anxiety, autism, schizophrenia, suicide, trauma, inattention, personality disorders, and fibromyalgia remain poorly understood. Treatment of symptoms alone fails to address the complexity of the individual in her environment. By contrast, the holistic or integrative perspective on health dictates that the whole is more than the sum of its parts.
There is a growing movement within conventional medicine towards a holistic and integrative approach to health. Doctors get board certified in Integrative Holistic Medicine, practice functional medicine, and sing praises of kale and salmon on TV shows. Our goal is to foster the integrative approach to mental health—the blending of the best of conventional medicine, nutrition, ancient medical systems, and alternative and complementary approaches—to facilitate healing and growth.
We are a small team of mental health clinicians trained in conventional psychiatry and complementary and alternative treatments, working together to provide integrative care and education to children and adults. Our approach to mental health care is personalized and rooted in research. We partner with our patients to provide effective treatments that maximize wellbeing and minimize side effects. Our role is to support individuals on their journey to health and wholeness. We believe in the healing power of relationships and the possibility of optimal physical, emotional, and mental health.
CDC MMWR (2011). Mental Illness Surveillance Among Adults in the United States. Vol. 60. Harris, P., Rees, R. (2000). The prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine use among the general population: a systematic review of the literature. Complementary Ther Med. Jun; 8(2):88-96.