Jumping to conclusions seems to be human nature. In psychology the phenomenon is identified as "inference-observation confusion" and is a form of cognitive distortion. In Integrative Wellness circles, unfavorable over-generalizations are often made to describe a complex perspective on health by those who do not fully understand the paradigm from which integrative care operates.
I see this in my work as a wellness mentor in both birthing and in stress management.
In birth, it manifests with a number of misconceptions which I've explored in Mother's Intention: How Belief Shapes Birth.
In stress management and the many sequelae associated with stress, like depression, the assumption might be that if testing for a vitamin D deficiency is suggested, the practitioner is rejecting conventional approaches to treatment. That is simply not how integrative wellness works.
Integrative physicians are medical practitioners who can, and do, use traditional approaches. The difference is that an Integrative physician will try to find the source of the problem instead of treating symptoms. Once treatment is initiated, it starts out with the least risky interventions.
The reason for this conservative approach is that they are fully aware of the limitations of traditional medicine and the risks that it holds. More than 700,000 people die each year due to iatrogenic causes. That means conventional medicine kills that may people each year. More than half of these deaths are due to medication errors or adverse reactions. Thus, it makes perfect sense to minimize the use of pharmaceuticals to true medical indication.
Let us look at an all to common example of this before applying this approach to stress.
In conventional medicine, antibiotics are prescribed as the first option for everything from the common cold to ear infections and beyond. This, despite continued admonishment from the CDC that this NOT be the preferred treatment due to the very concerning rise of antibiotic resistance. Conventional thought encourages parents to give their children fever reducers and send them off to school, despite the fact that fever has a purpose. The child may not feel sick for awhile, but they ARE still sick. And now they are out getting everyone they come in contact with sick as well.
This approach of throwing and antibiotic at unknown organisms has serious repercussions, and in situations where the sick person is making or serving food to the public, treating the symptoms so that the person can work while still ill can lead to epidemics.
What would a person do if they preferred an integrative approach? The first line of defense would be prevention. Hand washing, probiotics, and perhaps elderberry syrup if the bug was thought to be the flu. If the illness persists and the body's own defenses aren't adequate to the job, a culture might be done to determine if the infection is viral or bacterial. If bacterial, an antibiotic might be warranted, with proactive measures to try to limit the risks of the antibiotic, like yeast infections. If viral, an antibiotic would do nothing except introduce risk, so other options would be explored. Throughout, proper nutrition, hydration and hygiene would be maintained, with more risky interventions introduced in a way to minimize their risk. Notice that medication was not rejected; it just wasn't introduced first.
Now on to stress…
The first and best option in following an integrative approach is to prevent stress in the first place. Obviously, this isn't always possible, since even positive life events are stressful. Unavoidable stressors are introduced into all of our lives, every day.
Next, we need to recognize stress when and how it presents. We need to know how it affects our bodies, our minds, and our relationships. We might add exercise or yoga, which also shows promise in not just reducing anxiety, but treating depression that often accompanies prolonged stress and anxiety. Meditation, hypnosis or guided visualization (all theta brainwave states) might be incorporated, also beneficial for depression. Zentangle has been used in stress management and anger management. Vitamin D levels might be checked, as cortisol may deplete vitamin D, and vitamin D deficiencies are associated with depression, in addition to other mental illness and chronic pain. Also helpful for anxiety, depression and insomnia is the FDA approved Alpha Stim.
If stress were still unmanageable, therapy might be considered next, or at the very least learning cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to manage stress.
If the stress is so chronic and severe that it is unmanageable, medications might be appropriate, or even hospitalization. Again, the holistic provider is going to choose the medication with the fewest risks, and is going to suggest that all of the above mentioned therapies are continued so the least possible dose of the appropriate medication can address the issue. Notice again that at no time is conventional care rejected. ALL of the natural treatments for stress, anxiety and depression are compatible with medication and therapy. The only natural treatment options that may not be would be herbs or perhaps some supplements useful for anxiety and depression.
One of the criticism of integrative medicine is that people eschew modern medicine for old wives tales. As you can see, Integrative care is all inclusive. It does not suggest that all issues can be solved with natural remedies, but that often the root cause begins with imbalance that can be corrected. When that is not possible, each option up the ladder is embraced, so long as it proves to be effective. Many of the interventions have been studied and shown to be effective, while others still need to be studied, but are at least not harmful.