Bridging the gap between mental and physical health
The Mind-Body Approach
Modern neuroscience is just beginning to explain the complex mechanisms that relate our emotional and physical health. What we know is that the mind and the body are not separate entities. An important goal in our recovery from mental suffering is an awareness of, and appreciation for, our own bodies. Many mental health problems result from the protective defenses we put up to avoid uncomfortable sensations within our bodies. Some of us use “numbing” to protect against these stressful feelings while others use self-harm, anger and aggression. Others may swing back and forth from one to the other.
Over time, this causes us to dissociate or disintegrate from our bodily sensations. With no avenue to express ourselves, our bodies manifest our emotions through physical symptoms like fatigue, chronic pain, or headaches to name a few. Being stuck in our minds may be our way of protecting ourselves. That is, we begin believing that if we can think about it long enough or worry about it intensely enough, then maybe we can regain the control we so desperately seek. The dissociation occurs as we spin on the hamster wheel of worrying and it protects us from the frightening bodily sensations that overwhelm us. So, we avoid them. And in doing so, we slowly lose the mind-body connection that is so essential to our sense of “self.” We become disintegrated.
For many of us, our sense of “self” has been lost. Most therapy modalities are talk-therapies because finding the words to describe our feelings can be an essential part of healing. But it may not be enough to fully integrate ourselves. This is evident by the comment I hear frequently in my private practice:
“I understand it, but I don’t really feel it.”
Therefore, yoga, meditation, martial arts, breathing exercises, and other “mind-body integration techniques” are essential components to recovery so we can become comfortable in our bodies again.
What is C-L Psychiatry?
Many medical conditions and the medications used to treat them can have devastating consequences on our mental health. In fact, many neurological disorders present with psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety and depression before neurological symptoms surface. Alternatively, many psychiatric disorders and the medications used to treat them can have devastating consequences on our physica health. Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry is a subspecialty of psychiatry that aims to bridge the gap between our mental and physical health.
Consultation-Liaison (C-L) Psychiatry, formerly psychosomatic medicine, is a subspecialty of psychiatry aiming to bridge the gap between physical and mental health care. C-L psychiatrists work in a variety of settings, both inpatient and outpatient, collaborating with providers from other medical disciplines to provide integrated mental health care for medically and surgically ill patients. The psychiatric consultant must have clinical competency in the physical and neurological disorders that often lead to abnormal emotional states and behaviors. In addition, a competent consultant is a good diagnostician with an ability to supervise and collaborate with a multidisciplinary team, offering the most up-to-date and evidence-based recommendations on psychopharmacological and psychotherapeutic interventions. In addition, the consultant is well informed about federal, state, and regional medicolegal aspects of psychiatric and medical care.
C-L Psychiatrists have additional expertise in a variety of medically and neurologically informed psychiatric disciplines including, but not limited to, HIV Psychiatry, Psycho-oncology, Addiction Medicine, Transplant Psychiatry, Perinatal Psychiatry, Traumatic Brain Injury, Behavioral Neurology, and Neuropsychiatry.