Wouldn’t it be comforting to know that your OB-GYN, therapist, and primary care doctor all knew how you were doing as soon as you walked into your appointment? Most of your personal health information should get back to your primary care doctor, as they’re the ones who connect you to various specialists, but that communication doesn’t always go both ways. Most health professionals regularly ask about changes to your medical history, which is a good practice to ensure open communication—one that would serve namely that purpose if your team of doctors already discussed your well-being.
Integrative care is a concept of medical care in which the patient is cared for with every area of care in mind, particularly physical and psychological. Though the concept of integrative care has been around since the ‘80s, the first systematic review of it wasn’t published until 2007. It has expanded as a concept and is a practice for good doctors, but without systemic regulation by health organizations, it’s not mandated for your health professionals to be trained on how to function within an integrative system.
There are a lot of adjustments and changes for women in their perimenopausal years. As menopause transition is specific to an individual’s body and different for every woman, it can be difficult not having a clear timeline to go off of about something so sensitive. Sometimes, not knowing what to expect on a daily basis is the most difficult part of the change.
Perimenopause can last anywhere from a few months to 10 years. That is a frustrating range of time to try to adjust to uncomfortable symptoms, which can vary in length, frequency and severity. Frequently following symptoms of menopause are feelings of depression and anxiety.
For those with access to a therapist, having a health professional to reassure you that what you’re going through is normal can be helpful in alleviating the insecurity about your symptoms. Especially since, as middle age hits, there can be other serious illnesses to worry about. Apart from being a source of comfort, there are a lot of other ways your doctor can help—such as by prescribing medications that can help symptoms of insomnia, depression and hormone imbalance.
How Integrative Healthcare Helps
Not every doctor has the opportunity to delve as deeply into your intimate thoughts and concerns as your therapist. As symptoms vary so greatly, rehashing the symptoms you most need relief from can be galling to do more than once. This can be avoided when your therapist has already conveyed your concerns to your OB-GYN and primary physician.
Medications can often interfere with each other and is the reason it is necessary for all of your healthcare providers to know what medications you are taking and for what. If your doctors are communicating about your needs, they can be more thorough in checking that any medication they are considering for you will not decrease the effectiveness of another you are already taking or vice versa—which can save the patient from instances of trial and error. This is also helpful in measuring how potential symptoms of menopause may affect you differently than other women and what to prepare yourself for.
When looking at how integrative care improves patient care, studies have found that patients with integrative care are diagnosed with depression at rates over 20 percent higher than patients at traditional practices. This is an alarming statistic to consider when, according to the CDC, 12.3 percent of women between 40 and 59 years of age report symptoms of depression, most of which report make it difficult to conduct day-to-day activities. As 35 percent of people with severe depressive symptoms are not receiving the care they need, this leaves a huge amount of women in perimenopausal and menopausal years struggling to get through the day without any help. Integrative care can help lower this number.
There’s a lot going on in life that can make it difficult to keep track of every aspect of your physical and mental health, especially through your menopausal years. Doctors have access to a large variety of resources that may be exactly what you’re looking for and need. Ask your doctor about how integrative care can serve you.