Monday, November 28, 2011

Looking Beyond the Symptoms – An Integrative Approach

The book, It's Not Mental: finding innovative support and medical treatment for a child diagnosed with a severe mental illness takes the reader on our journey from puzzlement over our gentle younger daughter’s bizarre mood and schizophrenic symptoms, to despair, through grief and anger, and into a future better than we had hoped. Along the way, we were helped by family, doctors, nurses, therapists, and friends. Once we had her “fixed,” readers of this website know we could then address the older daughter’s “bipolar disorder” in a more integrated fashion—one which looked beyond the symptoms themselves.

One of the innovative, integrative medical doctors who helped my younger daughter heal is Dr. James Roach (Dr. Jim, as some of his patients affectionately call him). He was recently featured in our local newspaper: Midway physician takes an integrative approach to help his patients. (This link may not stay around long).

Readers may recall the point in our story (in college) when the younger daughter's last psychiatric symptoms were gone, and she no longer needed psychiatric medications.  It was then that I turned in puzzlement to Dr. Roach and sputtered out a BUT... "...but then where is the mental illness?" If she no longer needed antipsychotics, then where was her psychotic illness? His response was a simple, "Where indeed?"

He wrote thusly about “It's Not Mental ”:
Wolfson’s persevering drive to unravel her daughter’s debilitating ‘mental illness’ ultimately reveals its diverse, resolvable biomedical origin—an important truth for psychiatry. This is a vital book for parents and medical professionals alike!
Integrative therapy is not “alternative medicine” although for some individuals, some treatments we call alternative may help (see note at bottom).

Modern psychiatry only gives lip service to their mantra about giving “individualized care,” and insurance often will not cover the 3-pronged treatment approach advocated - biological, social, and psychological. The only "biological" paid for is throwing random brain-chemical medications at symptoms, and the spiritual, and emotional care is woefully lacking.  We already know the social net is lacking and many loved-ones are incarcerated instead of receiving the wrap-around medical and social care someone with dementia might receive. If there is any doubt about that, just read this heart-wrenching account from this one loving parent: Insanity - the Definition of Kentucky's Mental Health Laws at Work
Integrative medicine, as practiced by the best physicians, truly delivers. Dr. Roach hit the proverbial nail on the head for why my daughters suffered needlessly for so long with ‘mental’ illnesses that had “resolvable biomedical origins” when he stated about the medical professions (this supposedly includes “psychiatry”):
Maybe we specialize too much. You need a general in charge of everything who can look at the whole body.
He uses the word “integrative” to describe the style of medicine that melds high technology with extensive counseling and testing. The tests and treatments are often more precise and detailed than those found in some specialty clinics, and a good integrative doctor (any good doctor, in my opinion) has ample time to spend with each patient.
"There are answers. You just have to look for them. It takes time. But why don’t you at least look and see?
Why don’t you at least look and see?

That is the question voiced in the epilogue of my book, and what I fervently advocate for-- for doctors who see patients with psychiatric symptoms to look beyond those symptoms to what truly ails them.


Related Articles:
Direct link to List of Important Resources.

Note: We call some treatments "alternative" such as use of herbals (which merely enhance the body's own defenses and healing powers), and nutritionals such as micronutrient supplements, even without knowing in advance the patient needs the extra nutrients. But since even these treatments are backed by numerous research and in some cases 1000+ years of practice (it is very difficult to have non-pharmaceutical research funded and fairly evaluated and reported on in a world dominated by the muscles of a trillion dollar pharmaceutical industry) perhaps they should not be considered "alternative." Additionally, these "alternative" treatments, including meditation, hypnotherapy, and biofeedback, and dietary changes are usually used in conjunction with other changes. Perhaps people call it "alternative" purely because insurance companies do not pay for this, and therefore, many psychiatrists do not suggest it. Indeed, many psychiatrists do not even know about any treatments other than those taught to them by the pharmaceutical companies themselves.

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Last Updated:  28 November 2011

1 comment:

Groves said...

I am reading your book right now and getting so much out of it. Thank you for not being silent. Thank you for speaking up for so many who can't. **Thank you.**

My son has autism. I hope that somehow we can find a way to help him.

You are a part of that. Bless you.

Cathy in Missouri