Introducing Integrative Mental Health
Amanda Porter, MSN, APRN, PMHNP-BC
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, Lindner Center of HOPE Board-Certified in Internal Medicine, Psychiatry/Mental Health, and Addictions
Depression is a serious and costly health problem facing our country. Depression is the most common form of mental illness, and is a leading cause of disability, and affects more than a quarter of the US population (CDC, 2017). To date the most prevalent theory as to the etiology of depression is the neurotransmitter theory, however not everyone responds to medications which boost neurotransmitters. Only about half of patients respond to antidepressants, and those who do respond will likely experience relapse of depression within two years (Greenblatt and Brogan, 2016). Thus, we need to consider other influences which might be causing depression.
The field of Integrative Mental Health considers other reasons for depression, such as an altered microbiome, chronic inflammation, hormones, mitochondrial dysfunction, dietary sensitivities, genetic mutations, and the role of neurogenesis.
Integrative Mental Health focuses on the whole person in order to promote recovery as holistically as possible from a mental health diagnosis. Integrative Medicine is synonymous with functional medicine and complementary and alternative medicine. Integrative Mental Health Medicine is an area of medicine that is evolving through the work of its pioneer, Dr. Andrew Weil.
It’s important to understand that integrative therapies are not necessarily a replacement for mental health medications. Rather, integrative therapies can supplement your current mental health treatment plan, or at times reduce the quantity of medications a person takes.
At the Lindner Center of HOPE Integrative Mental Health programming includes genotyping that enables the detection of the MTHFR genetic mutation, and treat accordingly. Micronutrient, thyroid, and metabolic testing is also offered with appropriate recommendations on diet and lifestyle changes. As Hippocrates famously said, “Let food be thy medicine.” Through the UC Center of Integrative Health and Wellness, treatment modalities such as massage, yoga, and acupuncture are available.
After an initial consult with an Integrative Mental Health practitioner, an Integrative Mental Health treatment plan will be developed. The treatment plan is also based off the patient’s individual mental health needs. This treatment plan incorporates lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise, nutrient therapy consisting of beneficial dietary supplements, and also considerations for services such as acupuncture, massage therapy, mindfulness, meditation, and hypnosis. The program appeals to patients who are seeking to treat their mental health diagnosis with as few prescription medications as possible. Integrative Mental Health consultations and follow-up visits are covered under many insurance plans.
Greenblatt, J. M. & Brogan, K. (2016). Integrative therapies for depression. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press
Mental Health Basics. (2013). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/basics.htm