Laboratory Diagnostics and Functional Psychiatry
If you are frustrated from leaning on the same toolbox of medications and therapies that mostly just provide symptom management, you will want to learn more about functional laboratory diagnostics and the multiple ways testing can identify and target root causes of a patient’s mental illness.
While traditional psychiatric treatment can be helpful, it typically focuses on self-reported (subjective) patient symptoms and attempting to provide relief with medications rather than addressing the root causes.
Functional psychiatry is a more comprehensive approach that takes into account a patient’s biochemical individuality. The latest research shows that mental health conditions can be caused by underlying imbalances in the body, including nutrient deficiencies, hormone imbalances, inflammation, chronic infections, genetic markers, gastrointestinal microbiome disturbances, toxicity and more.
Laboratory diagnostics play a vital role in functional psychiatry by providing objective measurements and tangible markers for different imbalances related to each patient’s unique biochemistry. By testing and assessing each patient, mental illnesses can be targeted and treated – making psychiatry a measurable medicine.
Functional Medicine Testing for Mental Illness
Functional blood tests, like homocysteine and methylmalonic acid, can identify a need for B vitamins. Urine testing can identify signs of bacterial or fungal overgrowth in the intestinal tract. Hair testing can evaluate for deficiencies in nutritional levels of lithium. And numerous additional tests (amino acid testing, organic acid testing, cholesterol and many more) can assess other imbalances related to a patient’s biochemistry.
Once the underlying causes of a patient’s mental health symptoms have been identified, you can use these diagnostics to develop a personalized treatment plan to restore and correct imbalances. Interventions often include nutrition and dietary modifications, vitamin and mineral supplementation, environmental changes, hormone treatment, medication, and more. And best of all, you can objectively track patient progress with measurable results.
By targeting the causes of mental illness, Functional Psychiatry provides more effective relief of a patient’s symptoms, and ultimately, lasting recovery and relief. While it can be a significant learning curve to become proficient with Functional Laboratory Analysis, the payoff is dramatic. You’ll expand your understanding of your patient’s pathology and your toolbox of effective interventions.
An Example Case
A simple case can help highlight the benefits of objective lab tests.
A young woman had been dealing with chronic depression and fatigue for many years. She had been prescribed numerous medications and received years of counseling, all without much benefit. When she first walked into my office, I immediately noticed how pale she looked.
Upon testing, her complete blood count was normal, but further testing revealed very low ferritin levels, a measure of iron stores, at just seven micrograms per liter. While her body had partially compensated by maintaining red blood cell formation, she still had numerous symptoms associated with iron deficiency, and iron supplementation over the course of the next few months improved her depression symptoms dramatically.
Biochemical causes of mental health symptoms, including low iron, are frequently overlooked. Assessing these biomarkers is essential for mental health treatment. It provides concrete markers and measurements to help you move beyond symptom management. Imagine being able to specifically identify and target the causes of mental illness in your patients – and tracking their progress as they begin to heal!
If you want to learn how to identify and treat the root causes of your patients’ symptoms, I encourage you to consider enrolling our comprehensive flagship program, the Psychiatry Redefined Fellowship. One of our core focus areas is Functional Medicine Testing. We believe whole-person care begins with fully understanding patient pathology and biochemistry, as each patient is unique!
Join Our Functional Psychiatry Fellowship!
Our Fellowship covers nine key areas of functional medicine. The coursework gives you an advanced tool kit while providing access to the Psychiatry Redefined community – a valuable place for questions and answers to support your learning.
Dr. Madrigal, a previous fellow, described her own experience: “I feel more confident that I’m offering my patients a better approach, the best really, and I can make my approach more scientific and accurate.”
If you want to learn the latest functional laboratory diagnostics to use with your patients, join our next fellowship session starting January 2024!
Interested, but have questions? Click here to book a private discovery phone call with me to learn more and see if this program is right for you!