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Why Integrative Medicine Works

February 03, 2020

Saidat Kashimawo-Akande, MD
Staff Psychiatrist 


In recent years there has been a recognizable shift in medical care that focuses more on the entire individual rather than one specific symptom or concern. The pendulum is swinging back to physicians spending more time with patients and working as a collaborative team.

Integrative Medicine is grounded in science and focuses on mind, body, spirit and community using the most appropriate and effective modalities for each individual.

This is also best practice and produces the most effective outcome for the patient. For those reasons, HopeWay is proud to be certified by The Joint Commission as a behavioral health home and provides medical care on HopeWay’s campus in addition to psychiatric services. We also have integrative therapies that focus on various areas of health and healing such as art, diet, horticulture, relationships, music and exercise. Dr. Saidat Kashimawo-Akande, HopeWay’s newest psychiatrist reflected on integrative medicine and her passion for this approach to care.


Symptoms do not happen in isolation.

When I meet with a patient, they typically present with a specific symptom or concern. I find it valuable to consider, why this symptom and why now? Giving the patient an opportunity to explore that question and reflect on all aspects of their life including personal relationships, work stressors, physical health, etc. is invaluable to the treatment process. It is important to help guide the patient because sometimes they may not connect how a situation or behavior may be emotionally impacting them. When in fact, that trigger can be intensifying or fueling the problem. If we consider just the symptom and not the underlying factors, the patient may have either an incomplete response or no response at all. For instance, if a patient presents with anxiety, and I simply write a prescription without exploring situational factors impacting the anxiety, the optimal outcome may not be achieved.


Medication does not work alone.

Depression studies suggest that 30% of individuals respond optimally to an introduced antidepressant medication after 8 weeks, 30% may have a partial response and 30% may not respond during that period of time (Brown, R., Gerbarg, P., & Muskin, P. (2017) Complementary and Integrative Treatments in Psychiatric Practice. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association Publishing.). In order to optimally treat symptoms, it is important to recognize that medication is just one piece of effective management. Increasingly, individuals come looking for a “medication cure” or instantaneous response which is not realistic depending on the disease. With each unique individual I strive to achieve optimal wellness using a holistic lens, always considering the most natural options first. That may include evaluating diet, physical activity and exercise, sleep factors and considering psychotherapy. While medications can be very valuable, it is important to incorporate other effective modalities in the healing journey as well.

Often I hear patients say “why is this happening to me”? Someone who is experiencing anxiety or depression can feel out of control and not know why.

A way to regain control and empower the patient is to identify specific things they can do to support their healing process, like adjusting their diet or incorporating a meditation practice. It is particularly valuable to look at behavioral patterns, specifically maladaptive behaviors or repeated behaviors that can lead to a negative outcome or produce negative emotions. Always ask the question “Are there things I can change or adjust in my life?”


A partnership in the healing process.

When I work with a patient, I see it as a partnership, like we are partners in the healing process. Together we see how we can strive for happiness, optimal fulfillment and joy. In my own life, I try to live in a way that embodies how I encourage my patients to live. That includes being open to constant self-exploration and self-development. The essential thing is being aware that we all carry with us our own unique issues and life challenges and THAT IS OKAY. Recognizing what those issues are and being open to further growth and self-awareness is important and forges the path for positive change. It is a continuous process, a lifelong process, but being open and receptive to feedback allows for meaningful change.

I joined the HopeWay team in January after working as a staff psychiatrist at the Student Health Center at UNC Charlotte for three and half years. Prior to that I worked as an adult psychiatrist at Atrium Health for eighteen years in various settings, including the emergency room, inpatient and outpatient setting. I made the decision to come to HopeWay because the model of care practiced really embodies how I conceptualize treatment. I am a strong believer in yoga, mindfulness, healthy diet and exercise which are all woven into the treatment programs here at HopeWay.

Ultimately, I fell in love with the team approach, sense of collaboration and the investment HopeWay has in each person’s wellbeing and healing.


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Editor’s note: This blog post is presented for informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness. If you have any health concern, see a licensed healthcare professional in person.