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3 min read

What is an integrative psychiatrist?

A woman at a psychiatry appointment

The intention behind psychiatric medicine from the standpoint of clinicians has always been noble. Psychiatrists are scientists—real medical professionals—who are bound by the Hippocratic Oath to work and act in their patients' best interests.

Unfortunately, due to a myriad of reasons and other players in the "game," the process of visiting a psychiatrist often doesn't feel so noble.

With insurance companies, the FDA, and issues with the supply of qualified psychiatrists all affecting the patient experience, many psychiatrist visits more closely resemble a trip to the DMV than a wellness visit.

Integrative psychiatry seeks to change this by keeping treatment wholly patient-focused.

Let's learn more about this fairly new approach to psychiatry and find out if it may be right for you.

Integrative Psychiatry Resources on This Page:

What exactly is integrative psychiatry?

Should I go to an integrative psychiatrist?

What exactly is integrative psychiatry?

Integrative psychiatry is a modern form of psychiatric care that takes into account the effects of lifestyle and overall mental health on psychiatric disorders.

By addressing these two more holistic factors as well as medication management, an integrative psychiatrist is equipped to provide more meaningful and often more effective long-term care for their patients.

A non-integrative psychiatrist may approach their practice with a focus on volume: more bodies in and out of the door means a bigger payout from the insurance companies.

By contrast, an integrative psychiatrist takes care to address the full scope of a patient's mental health. While this is often a slower process, it tends to be a little more realistic in terms of affecting long-term change.

Note that an integrative psychiatrist still uses science and evidence in all treatment plans and recommendations. Failure to do so defeats the purpose of integrative psychiatry.

An integrative psychiatrist understands that the symptoms of a mental health condition can be affected by many external factors, such as lifestyle and life circumstances. They use scientifically-tested methods to address these aspects of their patients' lives in order to maximize the benefit of medication.

Medication Management

As a medical doctor, an integrative psychiatrist still issues medications for patients who need them. In fact, medication is often necessary in order to truly curtail the symptoms of a mental illness.

However, while a traditional psychiatrist may focus solely on medication, an integrative psychiatrist will likely utilize medication in combination with recommendations of lifestyle changes in therapy.

It's well documented that psychiatric medications help people with conditions like anxiety, depression, OCD, and PTSD.

But other factors can contribute to or worsen symptoms, so in order to truly and fully treat patients, an integrative psychiatrist will also focus on lifestyle changes and the mental health landscape as a whole.

Lifestyle Changes

Many physical characteristics, such as weight, drug use, alcohol use, and amount of exercise, can have an effect on the mental health of a given patient.

For example, drug use can heighten the symptoms of depression by further skewing the chemical imbalances present in these patients.

Life circumstances like a stressful new job can have an effect on mental health as well, worsening symptoms of anxiety and related conditions.

An integrative psychologist, recognizing these facts, may recommend certain lifestyle changes. Most commonly, these include:

  • Discontinuing drug use
  • Cleaning up your diet
  • Exercising more, or focusing on cardio

On top of these changes, your psychiatrist may still prescribe a medication in order to assist in reducing symptoms.

Talk Therapy

On top of lifestyle changes, evidence-based talk therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy have been shown in studies to improve mental health symptoms in many patients.

Because talk therapy is a non-medication treatment and therefore has limited side effects, it can often be preferable to something like, for example, Adderall, which can cause a host of side effects.

If your mental illness is being impacted by past trauma, ongoing events in your life, or negative thought patterns, talk therapy with a licensed professional may be able to help.

Many psychiatrists partner with talk therapy practices to provide their patients with a trusted and convenient source of therapy. For example, at Williamsburg Psychiatry Group, our psychiatrists work closely with our therapists at Williamsburg Therapy Group to ensure that every patient is getting the full-scope care they need.

Should I go to an integrative psychiatrist?

Every patient is different. Many patients have a prescribed medication they know works and simply need ongoing monitoring to ensure nothing changes.

If that's the case, standard psychiatric care is probably enough for you. Note that integrative psychiatrists don't always recommend therapy and lifestyle changes; they recognize that often medication management alone is the best course of action.

Many patients, however, have tried several medications and still haven't found one that really does the trick. If you fall into this category or simply want to take the best possible care of your mental health, then integrative psychiatry may be right for you.

Psychiatry in Brooklyn: Williamsburg Psychiatry Group

At Williamsburg Psychiatry Group, the psychiatric partner of Williamsburg Therapy Group, our psychiatrists are top-of-their-field medical professionals who have the expertise on medication management necessary to determine the best treatment plan or prescription for you.

But they also take an integrative approach by working closely with our in-house team of expert talk therapists. In combination, medication and talk therapy can be an extremely effective treatment for many mental health conditions.

Schedule an appointment today, or give us a call to speak with our patient coordinator. They'll be able to help match you with the right therapist for you. Feeling better may be closer than you think.

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