Integrative Psychiatry is the Future of Mental Health

by Brian P. Ramos

The landscape of psychiatry is changing as interest in integrative psychiatry grows.

The sun is setting on the Prozac Revolution of yore. Integrative psychiatry is on the rise as more and more people recognize that to have optimal mental and physical health, one must take matters into their own hands and go beyond just pharmacology and expensive technologies that are common in allopathic medicine.

It is hard to believe that there was a time in the 1970s when the anti-anxiety drug Valium was the most commonly prescribed medication in the United States. Scary time is it not?

Today, most psychiatric medications have fallen out of the top ten, as natural remedies, supplements, nutritional approaches, meditation, and other treatments have become more mainstream. Even though prescription rates of many psychiatric medications continue to trend upwards, psychiatrists across the globe are beginning to notice this trend and the effectiveness of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)in mental health.

Visit https://artofstressfreeliving.com for a FREE coaching session with Neuroscientist and Master Yogi, Ram.

For those in the mental health space, I would suggest that you consider becoming more educated and jump in early into what will become a multi-billion dollar industry that will transform the health space forever. The ‘green psychiatric’ movement, consisting of health- and eco-conscious eating, yoga & meditation practices, nutritional awareness, and dietary supplements, has arrived.

Patients are becoming more informed and are seeking alternative therapies shown to be more effective than medications and without the side effects that are sometimes difficult to deal with for both patient and clinician. Join this movement and take hold of your journey towards balance, wellness, and harmony.

Mental health practitioners who want to thrive in the future would do well to join in and integrate these practices and approaches not only with patients but in their own lives as well. In support of this, I found a study that suggested that 35% of patients utilize at least one form of CAM for their mental health concerns. Moreover, a report recently showed that the global dietary supplements market value will increase from USD 132.8 billion in 2016 to USD 220.3 billion in 2022.

It is no wonder then that my Instagram business account (Rama’s Rooted Tree) is often inundated with a variety of offers for health and supplemental concoctions. Many companies keep sprouting up to take advantage of this financial and health behemoth that will eventually do away with the expensive and complicated pharmacologically and technologically heavy approaches that are limited in their ability to treat patients long-term and see them to a more permanent state of wellness and vitality. I was motivated to start Rama’s Rooted Tree, DNA Hacker Secrets, and the Art of Stress-Free Living, in a large part, to help people across the world take their health and wellbeing into their own hands and become free of stress and disease forever (yes, it is possible and I can teach you how; BOOK A FREE consultation HERE).

If you are a physician, then you made a commitment to all your patients to follow the Hippocratic oath. Therefore, “You should apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures required to avoid the twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism. You will prevent disease whenever you can, for prevention is always preferable to cure.”

Mental health professionals should not just brand their practice as “treating the whole person” on their website, but also apply it by emphasizing more than drug prescription. An approach that goes beyond what the pharmaceutical and insurance industries reward, not only provides better and more comprehensive patient care but will also appeal to a broader patient base.

Despite the obvious favorable trends, within many academic and private institutions, there is a clear and broad skepticism about CAM. So, what is integrative medicine anyway and how does it relate to CAM? How can psychiatry, more than most medical professions benefit from CAM? It is important to note, however, that integrative medicine is not a synonym for complementary and alternative medicine, even though, integrative medicine can certainly encompass specific many different CAM techniques.

Integrative medicine is a patient-centered model that considers not just evidence-based pharmaceutical treatments but also socio-cultural factors, nutritional status, mind-body medicine, and preventative medicine for both the eradication of illness and the promotion of long-term wellness. Often I hear clinics say that they are doing great in the short-term, but are lacking in helping the patients for longer time periods.

Integrative medicine can never include rejection of standard-of-care treatments that have shown to be great options in both mental and physical care. Additionally, integrative medicine is not in the business of practicing untethered medicine linked to pseudoscience.

The National Institutes of Health includes guided imagery, diet, yoga, and meditation, for example, as common complementary health approaches. Prayer or mantras, which I teach in “The Art of Stress-Free Living” book and at my events, spirituality, and cultural-competence may also support any integrative practice.

Becoming more culturally-competent and encouraging your patients to openly share how their spiritual beliefs support their journey towards health can certainly enhance their therapeutic alliance, reduce patient disengagement, and even improve long-term outcomes. Ultimately, the goal of integrative psychiatry is to increase the number of treatment options to go beyond just the conventional approaches of medication management and conventional psychotherapy.

It just makes so much sense to me. What about you? Can you imagine if a cardiologist prescribed a statin drug to a patient with elevated cholesterol and then follow it up with saying, “You are good now; eat whatever you want.” Why then do so many psychiatrists and mental health clinics stick to this approach when dealing with their patients, if there are so many proven options, beyond medication and psychotherapy, that are known to help?

An integrative psychiatrist would take a different approach. A depressed patient on Prozac should be engaged in a discussion about diet, social support, exercise habits, mindfulness, etc. Additionally, he or she would want to know what the patient is doing to support his own wellness pursuits in-between visits and have the knowledge base to suggest or even include into their practice other healing modalities known to work and rooted in research and practice. Remember that what a patient does outside of the doctor’s office and the prescribed medication(s) is equally, if not more important, a component of the healing process.

Moreover, an integrative or ‘green’ psychiatrist would encourage an anxious patient that is benefitting from acupuncture to continue treatments, especially since there are no contraindications. He or she would also collaborate with the patient’s acupuncturist to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that may very well include a prescription for Prozac or any other support or technique (i.e. yogic breathing, meditation, etc.).

There are currently 26 integrative medicine fellowships in the United States including the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine (AIHM), of which I am a member. This number should continue to rise, as will clinics that offer a holistic approach to healthcare. The question is whether you want to position yourself at the top as a place to go for the best of mental healthcare or not.

Develop a team that consists of other healthcare providers in various stages of their careers with different approaches and ideas that complement each other for the benefit of the patients. The multidisciplinary nature of the endeavor will promote greater cooperation between healthcare professionals trained in different approaches to healing. It is in the best interest of all patients if we can all work together to improve mental health by keeping an open mind and protecting the profession with sound approaches based on scientific evidence.

It is odd then that one of the most profound barriers to the widespread application of alternative therapies among physicians is the perceived lack of evidence to support their use. While this concern is merited in some instances, many alternative therapies have been studied and shown to be excellent options.

Ginko Biloba

For example, the utilization of the ancient plant, Ginko Biloba, has been extensively studied for the treatment of a number of health issues. It is encouraging to see that The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has seen an increase in funding from 89.2 million in 2001 to 130.5 million in 2017 to support new research studies.

We will see integrative medicine encompass a wider range of treatment options. For example, I have personally seen with clients how incorporating relatively benign modifications, like a pranayama (yogic breathing) practice in lieu of a benzodiazepine or other similar drug, can have a phenomenal effect for overcoming anxiety and moving the locus of control from the outside (a drug) to the inside (power of our own consciousness). Moreover, I have seen time and again how a diet rich in raw, whole plant-based foods and a mindfulness-based exercise regimen can improve both physical and mental health to the point where the patient takes command over their wellbeing.

We can only take care of each other if we take care of ourselves. There is only so much that your doctor can do for you if you do not do your part to do the work and find the solutions within you with the help of a skilled clinician. The landscape of psychiatry is evolving for the better as we gain a deeper understanding of the brain and the biochemical model of mental illness, as well as the deeper aspects of healing that go beyond the physical body.

We are multidimensional beings that deserve care that treats us at every level of the Self. Integrative Psychiatry should encompass a multidisciplinary and multidimensional approach that will support and empower patients past their limitations and towards greater freedom to pursue their dreams and the life they so deserve. Hari Om Tat Sat!

Much Love,

Dr. Ramos (Ram)

Spread the love

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *