Depression is one of the most common disorders I treat. It is also something I have had personal experience with. This illness can leave you feeling in a fog. It can wrap you in a veil such as these clouds are creating with this mountain in the photograph. It can have a significant effect on quality of life for you and others around you. Depression is typically treated using prescription antidepressant medication and behavioral health therapy. Many women dislike this approach and prefer more holistic treatments. A functional medicine approach to mood disorders can help treat and manage depression (and other mood disorders) using a holistic approach.
Functional medicine is designed to reveal dysfunction in your body that can contribute to depression and anxiety. Imbalances in hormones, nutrients, amino acids, neurotransmitters, and gut bacteria or yeast can influence the functioning of the body systems. Functional medicine tests such as the 𝗢𝗿𝗴𝗮𝗻𝗶𝗰 𝗔𝗰𝗶𝗱𝘀 𝗧𝗲𝘀𝘁 can reveal nutritional imbalances. Results can direct a holistic treatment plan that could significantly improve your moods! Many women prefer this approach over taking prescription medication. I would love to help you find the root cause of your mood problems. The purpose of this article is to share my personal experience with a functional medicine approach, and how the OAT test changed how I manage my depression.
I have lived with depression for over 30 years. You can read about my personal experience living with this chronic illness in my blog. I have a very strong family history of depression, therefore, it was not surprising that I also “inherited” this illness. No one has ever questioned whether there might be an underlying cause for the illness other than ruling out thyroid disease and checking my vitamin D level.
I have managed my depression mostly with a traditional medical approach including prescription medication and behavioral health therapy. I also lead a very healthy lifestyle which contributes in positive ways. My medication allows me to feel like myself, for sure! And behavioral health therapy has also been extremely helpful. However, I do not want to continue taking prescription medication for the rest of my life. Although I have found great benefit with traditional treatment for my depression, I have decided to take a different approach to address my illness — a functional medicine and holistic approach.
Functional medicine is a scientific-based approach to healthcare and wellness that looks beyond symptom resolution. The goal of this approach is to find why illness occurs and to address the root causes in order to restore health and achieve optimal well-being. This style of medical care encompasses a whole person view and integrative treatment approach.
The body is made of many interrelated microsystems. Together, these smaller systems work to make one large complex system. Systems in our body are highly regulated. Many basic factors contribute to the flow of the body systems. For example, nutrients from our food, neurotransmitters, hormones, amino acids, and cellular mitochondria, all have an impact. The body relies on these components in order to function precisely. The goal is to achieve proper flow of the systems and the body as a whole. Even one dysfunctional microsystem can have influence on the entire body.
The basic premise of functional medicine is, if the body receives all that it needs to function, risk of illness is low. The entire body system can become disrupted if malfunction occurs due to poor nutrition, hormone imbalance, bacterial or yeast overgrowth, poor digestion, neurotransmitter imbalance, or toxins in the body. When this the case, dysfunction occurs and eventually results in symptoms, illness, and chronic disease.
Functional Medicine Tests
Functional medicine utilizes specialized tests. The tests are very sophisticated. They can identify imbalances, inefficiencies, dysfunction, signs of chronic stress and inflammation, alterations in the flow of the body, or genetic influences that could be contributing to the symptoms or illness.
Functional medicine testing often focuses on the details of the body system and whether each functioning microsystem is receiving the right “ingredients” in order to achieve full and optimal performance. Tests can measure the health of the gut, the immune system, the endocrine or hormonal system, and the nervous system. They can also reveal signs of inflammation and stress, neurotransmitter dysfunction, poor nutrition, toxins in the body, genetic variants, and food sensitivities. The tests identify where the system is broken down and why. In this way it allows for identification of the root cause of the symptoms or illness, ideally before it becomes a chronic condition.
I recently had a functional medicine test called Organic Acids Test (OAT). It consisted of a urine test and a blood draw. This test looks at the overall nutritional status in the body and produces very detailed results. The results can guide a holistic treatment plan. My OAT test revealed that I have severe deficiencies in vitamins B2, B12, and zinc. The results also indicated I was low in other vitamins and minerals, amino acids and cofactors that assist with various functions in my body. These vitamin and mineral deficiencies cause a breakdown in systems. These breakdowns correlate with neurological dysfunction and are likely contributing to or causing my depression. I felt relieved that my test results were able to identify contributing factors to my moods and also other symptoms that I am having.
The OAT test revealed very specific nutritional deficiencies and imbalances that I can now address through my diet and supplement regimen. The results detail exactly which nutrients (vitamins, minerals, amino acids) and how much of each I need. It also suggests herbal and probiotic support giving specific suggestions. It will be very easy for me to focus on correcting my deficiencies by following these recommendations. I am hopeful that by giving my body the nutrients it needs to function well, I will feel better and eventually be able to reduce or discontinue the prescription medication I am taking. I am excited by the possibility that I can rely on this type of holistic approach to support my body and allow me to feel the best I can.
Traditional versus Functional Medicine
As you can see, a functional medicine approach is quite different than traditional medicine in regards to treating depression. I love how the focus is on finding the root cause of the problem! And I love how this then guides a natural form of treatment. For people like me who prefer a holistic approach to health, a treatment plan based on the root cause including dietary and nutritional suggestions as well as supplements, is a wonderful alternative to taking prescription medication for the rest of my life. A functional medicine approach can reveal basic needs that if addressed, can be life changing. Let me share this approach with you!
I am a women’s health nurse practitioner licensed in Washington state. My virtual practice offers an individualized functional medicine and holistic health approach to women. I would love to work with you, and I am confident that I can help you find the answers you have been searching for. If you would like to discuss whether this approach is right for you, please schedule a FREE telephone consultation with me HERE. If you live outside of Washington state, I hope you will continue to read my blog. You can also find me on Facebook and Instagram. And if you would like to join my email list, you will receive a beautifully designed email once each week with holistic health information for women.
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