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It’s All Connected: Functional Medicine Approach to Mental Health

In functional medicine, we equip our patients with tools like mindfulness and stress management techniques to navigate life’s stresses more gracefully. As for hormones, these little chemical messengers can wreak havoc when they're out of balance, swinging your mood wildly from joy to despair. Through nutritional guidance and sometimes hormone therapy, we strive to keep these levels stable, ensuring they support rather than disrupt your mental health.
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In the world of functional medicine, we take a holistic view of mental health, recognizing that its not just about the mind but also involves a delicate balance of emotional, spiritual, and physiological factors. Let’s dive into how sleep, stress, hormones, and even the Seattle weather can play significant roles in shaping our mental wellness.

 

Sleep, Stress, and Hormonal Health

First off, sleep isn’t just a time filler between Netflix binges; it’s foundational for mental clarity and emotional stability. Disrupted sleep can leave you feeling like you’re running on low battery, impacting everything from your mood to your ability to think straight. Functional medicine approaches this by prioritizing natural sleep aids and lifestyle adjustments that promote a sound slumber.

Stress management is another critical piece of the puzzle. In functional medicine, we equip our patients with tools like mindfulness and stress management techniques to navigate life’s stresses more gracefully. As for hormones, these little chemical messengers can wreak havoc when they’re out of balance, swinging your mood wildly from joy to despair. Through nutritional guidance and sometimes hormone therapy, we strive to keep these levels stable, ensuring they support rather than disrupt your mental health.

 

Weathering the Mood: The Seattle Factor

Now, living in Seattle, the weather can often feel like it has its own mood disorder, right? The persistent gray skies can lead some to experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). We combat this with light therapy and vitamin D supplementation to mimic the effects of a sunny day, helping to lift spirits even when the weather doesn’t.

 

Spiritual Wellness and Emotional Expression

Having a grounded spiritual practice can significantly bolster mental health. Whether it’s meditation, prayer, or spending time in nature, these activities provide a sense of purpose and peace. Have you heard of Forest Bathing? The term emerged in Japan in the 1980s as a physiological and psychological exercise called shinrin-yoku (“forest bathing” or “taking in the forest atmosphere”). Forest bathing is not just for the wilderness-lover; the practice can be as simple as walking in any natural environment and consciously connecting with what’s around you.

Equally important is the ability to express emotions in a safe environment. In our practice, we encourage open communication, whether through therapy or support groups, as a way to strengthen emotional health and community ties.

 

The Role of Exercise in Mental Health

Exercise is not just about staying physically fit—it’s a crucial component of mental wellness. Regular physical activity, especially aerobic exercises like walking, cycling, or swimming, can dramatically improve mood, reduce anxiety, and enhance overall mental health. Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, often known as the body’s natural “feel-good” hormones, which can alleviate feelings of depression and stress. Additionally, engaging in regular workouts can improve sleep patterns, help regulate hormones, and boost self-esteem, all of which contribute to a healthier mental state. 

 

The Foundations Laid by Genetics and Early Relationships

Our mental health isn’t just shaped by current life experiences but also by genetic factors and early childhood attachments. The theories proposed by John Bolby on Attachment Theory highlight how early relationships with caregivers establish patterns that influence our future interactions and emotional wellbeing. In functional medicine, we often explore these early experiences to understand and address persistent mental health challenges. 

 

Nutritional Building Blocks for Mental Acuity

Nutrition is a powerhouse when it comes to supporting mental health. Essential nutrients like B-vitamins—particularly B6, B9 (folate), and B12—play crucial roles in brain function and mood regulation. Amino acids such as glycine, theanine, and taurine, along with minerals like magnesium, zinc, and selenium, are vital for maintaining cognitive functions and emotional health.

Let’s not overlook the antioxidants CoQ10 and glutathione, which protect the brain and other tissues from oxidative stress. And yes, those brightly colored fruits and vegetables on your plate aren’t just pleasing to the eye—they’re packed with vitamins and antioxidants that support mental clarity and resilience.

Vida’s Fullscript Online Supplement Dispensary provides you with top quality brands we know and trust at a discount. You are not required to be a patient at Vida to purchase supplements.  Create a Free Account at https://us.fullscript.com/welcome/vida/store-start. 

 

Conclusion

From a Functional Medicine standpoint, tackling mental health means looking at the whole picture and addressing all the interconnected elements that contribute to wellness. Our approach is about more than just managing symptoms—it’s about optimizing your entire lifestyle to support vibrant mental health. Whether it’s the gloomy Seattle weather, life’s usual ups and downs, or finding time for a jog in the rain, remember, in functional medicine, we’ve got a holistic strategy to keep you feeling balanced and bright.

 

 

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