Cheat Sheet For Distinguishing Between Traditional & Functional Medicine Mental Health Approaches

Long live the days of Traditional Medicine’s holistic approach to wellness. For much of the 21stcentury, a formidable marriage of convenience between Big Pharm and traditional practitioners has strongly incentivized prescription writing and symptom management over whole-person treatments and true cures. With all the money to be made in symptom management, holistic approaches, like Functional Medicine, have been replaced by disease-centered dictatorships lead by wardens of wellness.

But with new science backing up the throwback success of systems-based approaches to wellness, Functional Medicine has been showing off its new moves on the mental health dance floor.

That may leave some of us asking…Great! But what exactly is Functional Medicine and how is it different from the Traditional Medicine approach to mental illness treatment?


Here are four ways to help you understand what Functional Medicine is—and isn’t, when compared to the Traditional Model of medicine you well know.

Functional medicine is wellness oriented; traditional medicine is disease oriented. Functional medicine prioritizes preventative care aimed at healing the whole body in a systems-based approach to mental health. Traditional medicine relies predominantly on a disease-centered model where treatment is offered only AFTER symptoms have pushed the scales into full, blown, disease—often offering symptom management tokens like prescription drugs to abate the discomfort of anxiety, depression, obsessive thoughts, and psychosis.

Functional medicine is patient-centered; traditional medicine is doctor-centered. Functional medicine mental health practitioners are your therapeutic partner, committed to teaching and encouraging patients to take control of your wellness and see it to the fullest capacity of health. Traditional medicine, on the other hand, focuses almost exclusively on the “expert” doctor’s ability to delegate your powers away to a prescription that minimizes your ailment, leaving you very little control over your mental health and wellness.

Functional medicine focuses on your individual body chemistry; Traditional Medicine assumes all patients are ill for the same reasons—and treats them the same way.Functional Medicine Practitioners take the time to understand all of your working parts and how they relate to each other. Traditional medicine treats every patient more or less the same way; ignoring differences in your presenting model of disease as compared to the next.

Functional medicine seeks to address the root cause of illness; traditional medicine seeks to identify symptoms—then pacify them. Functional medicine mental health practitioners want to do more than just identify your symptoms. They want to know what’s really wrong with you and work to correct it; leaving you independent, empowered, and in control of your mental health. They want to know the root cause of your trouble and eliminate it—and prevent it from coming back. Traditional medicine practitioners have created a culture of prestige in their ability to “name that disease.” And, sometimes it will seem that is all some practitioners are interested in and then they want to pacify your symptoms with medication as they enjoy their kickbacks from the pharmaceutical company that made the drug they prescribed you. When those symptoms return, they change the drug—never bothering to address the place your symptoms originated from in the first place. Now, that is not how all operate. There are some great traditional medicine practitioners out there. But, we can all agree their approach can be improved. And functional medicine may be the way.

As more and more Americans are facing chronic mental illnesses, modern medicine will have to keep up with the health-conscious demands of patients who want more control over wellness rather than handing over their mental health to illness management, prescription drugs, and the disease mindset. Find yourself a qualified Functional Medicine Mental Health Practitioner to help you take back your life from the grips of Big Pharm and helplessness.

For more information on Functional Medicine Mental Health Breakthroughs, contact Total Wellness Clinic for a free paper on the cutting edge research backing the success of Functional Medicine on mental health treatment. Be well.

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