Discover Functional Medicine for Mental Health

At High & Grounded, our practitioners utilize an integrative wellness approach combining traditional psychiatric care, holistic-oriented therapies, and functional medicine. 

What is Functional Medicine?

Simply put, functional medicine can be viewed as a “lens” by which a practitioner conceptualizes disease and symptom presentation in patients. The goal of functional medicine is to uncover the “root causes” of symptoms and to directly address those issues through lifestyle interventions, supplements, and dietary modifications.

The functional medicine practitioner starts out by conducting an extremely thorough history that spans multiple domains. This may be in the form of an assessment that can take up to 3 hours to complete, covering your entire lifespan in a detail-oriented and systematic way. Many providers have the patient fill out the form well before the initial appointment so that it can be reviewed ahead of time. It is not uncommon for your first appointment to last anywhere between 2 to 3 hours.

The questions that your provider will ask you may seem to be completely irrelevant to your presenting symptoms. For example, if you’re struggling with depression, it is not uncommon for a functional medicine provider to ask you questions about your immune functioning, your gastrointestinal health, your diet, your lifestyle habits, your relationships, and your exposure to environmental toxins. Functional medicine providers have been trained to understand the nuances of how all of the different “systems”, both in our body and our environment, interact and influence one another. This detective work enables the provider to uncover the so called “root causes” to mental or physical aches and pains that you’re experiencing.

After attending your first appointment, your provider will likely come up with a number of hypotheses as that what may driving and maintaining your symptoms. He or she may recommend various lab tests to confirm these hypotheses and use this data to formulate an individualized treatment plan. In functional medicine, the treatment plan tends to emphasize lifestyle modification, nutritional counseling, and the use of dietary supplements. The use of prescription medication is done more diligently, and only if more natural interventions fail to produce results, or if your symptoms are so severe that they require more aggressive forms of treatment to ensure your safety.

Much of the treatments and testing used in functional medicine are considered by some providers and professional organizations to be “alternative”, “complementary”, or lacking scientific evidence. There are a number of factors contributing to this assumption. It’s largely due to with the way modern conventional medicine is practiced, delivered, and influenced by various stakeholders such as the government, insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry, and educational systems.

Functional medicine was largely born out of various scientific disciplines such as microbiology, genetics, immunology, endocrinology, and neuroscience. Decades of research in these areas has influenced the growth of providers and has informed their practice. Historically, functional medicine providers have operated their own private practices; however, their momentum has caught the attention of major medical research centers. In fact, the Institute of Functional Medicine, in collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic, has opened the largest functional medicine clinic in the United States. Dedicated to evidence-based practice, this collective is currently conducting research comparing clinical outcomes of patients with chronic diseases treated by either functional medicine or conventional standards of care. With a waitlist of over 6 months and patients flying in from all over the world to receive services, there will be no shortage of data. The results of these large-scale studies will be of the first to provide clinical evidence validating the growth of countless positive outcomes reported by patients and functional medicine providers.

The reality is that functional medicine is very much based in science. In fact, the very practice of functional medicine is science; it is driven by an unbiased and curious cultivation of data, filtering these data points through external influential factors, using that data to generate hypotheses, and backing up the hypotheses using factual information that ultimately guides treatment. It is a time consuming process and takes much work on behalf of the patient and the provider, but the results are worthwhile to those who truly take an interest in improving their health and their lives.  Functional medicine providers do not believe in “quick fixes”. They do not look to mask your symptoms using medications, and they strongly believe in empowering their patients with the proper knowledge and education to inform their healthcare choices.

The goal of functional medicine is to liberate the patient from the “sick role” that is so often perpetuated by the very people who are trying to help us in the first place. This model of care will ultimately require systems level changes to the way treatment is delivered in our country, the way doctors and hospitals are reimbursed and incentivized for their services, and the way in which we conceptualize “disease” processes.

 

To learn more about functional medicine, you can visit the Institute of Functional Medicine or read New York Times best-selling author Chris Kresser’s new book entitled Unconventional Medicine.

 

With Gratitude,

The High & Grounded Wellness Team

Raising Mental Health Awareness on Sonoran Living

5 Tips to Help a Loved One Get Mental Health Treatment 

Community Mental Health Awareness

 

For decades, being diagnosed with a mental illness has been considered socially taboo. To this day, we often hear our patients talk about how difficult and challenging reaching out for help can be secondary to the shame or fear of being labeled. Society as a whole has perpetuated this issue and the impact it has on our families and our communities is tremendous. To combat this major public health issue, High and Grounded has made it a part of their mission statement to raise mental health awareness.

Continue reading “Raising Mental Health Awareness on Sonoran Living”

Differentiating Self From Others Through Boundaries

boundaries

Developing effective communication and self-efficacy

A Lesson in Boundaries

Developing a cohesive sense of self is a arguably the most crucial developmental milestone one can achieve in a lifetime. Failing to do so can have a major impact on your mental health. Psychologist use the term ego-strength to describe an individual's degree of security with their identity combined with an awareness of personal values and morals.  The ability to align your sense-of-self with values through our behavior and interpersonal relationships is a good indicator of ego-strength.

Humans learn how to develop ego-strength through out their lifetimes; however, according to research the most crucial time period by which this takes place is during childhood. We do so by exploring the external world and how this relates to our internal experience. Children have high degrees of neuroplasticity, or a capacity to develop new neural networks within the nervous system. In other words, children's brains are highly impressionable and are directly influenced by the environment. In order to navigate this process in an adaptive way, children must learn how to effectively set boundaries through their relationships with attachment-figures.

Author and mental health consultant Pia Mellody describes boundaries as the "invisible and symbolic fences" that serve three purposes:

  1. To prevent people from invading our personal space
  2. To prevent us from invading the personal space of others
  3. To give us each a way to embody our sense of "who we are"

Boundaries are not inherent. Infants, by default, do not have boundaries. Think of an infant. They have no qualms invading personal space because they are unable to differentiate the self from others. Without the appropriate modeling of behavior by adults, children will often grow to have difficulty with boundaries and be at higher risk of developing maladaptive defense mechanisms and mental health problems later in life.

"When an individual has no boundaries, he will be offensive in his expression of self and be too vulnerable in receiving the reality of another. When he has a wall for a boundary system, he prevents meaningful intimate exchange and is invulnerable." - Pia Mellody

Our past is something that is out of our personal control. What we can control is how we chose to move forward with these experiences to inform our future behaviors. This takes patience and practice.

Setting personal boundaries within our relationships can be a challenge. Being mindful of how to effectively communicate these boundaries can help to improve outcomes. Gaining insight into the ways by which you engage in interpersonal relationships through psychotherapy can also be beneficial. The following format can be a helpful tool in practicing to set boundaries with others:

Sensory Data (observable behavior)

  • "When I saw..."
  • "When I heard you say..."

Thoughts (always speak from the "I" position)

  • "What I made up about that is..."
  • "What I believe about that is..."
  • "What that has triggered from my past is..."

Emotions (which are generated from our thoughts)

  • "And about that I am feeling..."

 

 

Eight Basic Emotions

  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Pain
  • Joy
  • Passion
  • Love
  • Shame
  • Guilt

In the Future (vulnerable request)

  • "What I would like/prefer is..."

Using these skills may feel uncomfortable or awkward. That is okay. A good rule of thumb is that if something is uncomfortable for you, that you are likely doing something right because it offers an opportunity for growth and change. The words used can be flexible, but the message is the same. I value myself enough to express my needs and desires. Being able to identify and express those needs to others is important, but perhaps more so is the ability to let go of the outcome.

Building Core Values: Patience

Dr. Olivia has a passion for shattering the stigma of mental health through her literary work. Having received a dual major in journalism and nursing during her undergraduate studies, she often writes for local and web-based media outlets on the topic of mental health. In this article, Dr. Olivia writes about the importance of patience in living a High and Grounded life for the web blog Career Girl Daily. Building and nurturing core-values such as patience can play a major role in sustaining lasting recovery.

patience

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Recommended Mental Health Resources

Mental Health Resources

Finding legitimate mental health resources can be a daunting challenge. Working through the shame and stigma in reaching out for help is hard enough, finding the help should not be. That is why the providers at High and Grounded have decided to create a list of mental health resources that they often recommend to their patients. View the entire list of mental health resources here. Below are some highlights of their top recommendations.

patient resources, mental health resources

Continue reading “Recommended Mental Health Resources”