Functional medicine is a biology-based approach to healing the root cause of any medical issue. It is one of the key ways naturopathic doctors are able to help patients resolve a variety of problems. A given diagnosis can stem from more than one cause. For example, depression may be linked to inflammation, Vitamin D deficiency and low thyroid functioning—each contributing to depression in the individual. The exact manifestation depends on factors such as genetics, lifestyle and stress, so finding and treating the root cause with produce longer lasting benefits than only treating for symptomatic control. The Institute of for Functional Medicine uses this information to describe this example quite clearly and in more detail overall.
Dr. Elizabeth Rice, an ND here at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, has a particular focus on treating depression and hormone imbalances utilizing the concept of functional medicine:
“As humans, we experience emotions on a fluctuating continuum – everyone has experienced depression or anxiety in some form. When our bodies are in balance, we are better able to offset the effects of depression and anxiety. Conversely, when we are out of sync or imbalanced, depression or anxiety can overwhelm us and impair our ability to function normally. When we approach our mental health from a functional medicine perspective, we are evaluating the health of the person as a whole: diet, lifestyle, sleep quality, stress management, hormone balance, environmental toxin exposure, relationship quality, etc. All of these subsets of health are interchangeably linked and influence our emotional stability. A thorough evaluation of each of these pillars will reveal areas of weakness and deficiency that, when corrected, can promote relief from emotional burden. For example, a thorough investigation of depression for a 36 year old female might reveal a hormonal imbalance with elevated estrogen and deficient progesterone, a diet high in refined carbohydrates, a nightly sleep debt, and an unsupportive marital partner. Respectively, her symptoms might be worsening of depression before and during her menstrual cycle, debilitating fatigue during the day especially after meals, rush of thoughts at night preventing sleep, and feeling isolated and lonely. For true healing, all areas of concern must be addressed and corrected. Using herbs or homeopathy to balance hormones, increasing complex carbohydrates and fiber to stabilize blood sugar levels, sleep hygiene and talk therapy this patient will be supported in all areas and need."
If you are concerned about feeling down, be sure to find a good naturopathic doctor who can look beyond the symptoms into the root cause, and who has the ability to address all aspects of any health concerns that may surround the primary reason for your visit.