What is Lifestyle Medicine?
Lifestyle Medicine is a specialty that encourages therapeutic lifestyle interventions as a primary modality to prevent and reverse psychiatric and medical conditions. Conventional wisdom has long suggested that modifications in diet, exercise and sleep positively impact physical and mental health. More recently, science has confirmed these anecdotal observations, providing authoritative evidence that application of certain lifestyle interventions helps manage symptoms of depression, anxiety, and improves quality of life.
Lifestyle Medicine accepts the same pathophysiology of the cause of disease as conventional medicine, yet differs in focus and utilization. While traditional medicine focuses on treating medical and psychological illness with medications and physical interventions, Lifestyle Medicine prescribes daily changes in physical activity, eating patterns and self care to address common physical and mental health problems. Oftentimes, lifestyle medicine is used in conjunction with conventional medicine for optimal treatment outcomes.
While research shows that implementation of non-pharmacological strategies dramatically improves physical and mental health, as a consumer it can be impossible to disentangle evidence based interventions from the latest health fad. Furthermore, many of us struggle with how to prioritize which recommendations would be most impactful, and how to practically incorporate healthy habits in our daily lives. A consultation with a Lifestyle Medicine expert will identify the aspects of your physical and mental health most amenable to lifestyle modifications, and tailor a program that is accessible and applicable to your daily life. Your work with a Lifestyle Medicine clinician might include prescriptive changes such as a whole-food, plant-predominant eating pattern, personalized fitness recommendations,, restorative sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substances, and positive social connections, that when used consistently, often reverse psychiatric and medical disorders.
Who Benefits from Lifestyle Medicine?
Mental health symptoms are caused by intersecting factors such as biological predisposition, psychological influences, and social and environmental factors. Lifestyle plays a critical role in the manifestations of mental health symptoms, treatment outcomes, and a person’s quality of life. While our patients have access to the most cutting edge psychotherapies and pharmacological interventions at The Midtown Practice, clients interested in pursuing a multimodal, holistic approach to address their symptoms would benefit from a Lifestyle Medicine consultation. Lifestyle Medicine treatment can be initiated before, during, or after other treatment modalities (i.e. psychotherapy and psychopharmacology) have been explored, depending on the client’s goals and preferences.
What is the Treatment Course and Follow Up?
Lifestyle Medicine is unique in that it encourages an active role by both the provider and the patient in treatment, while conventional medicine focuses on acute symptoms and employs a less active approach. During your initial consultation; we will review your current lifestyle habits and identify personal goals. Together, we will develop a personalized plan for enacting lifestyle changes, oftentimes through specific, quantifiable “lifestyle prescriptions.” During follow up appointments, we will review the implementation of recommended strategies, and treatment will evolve based on individual progress and goals. Weekly Lifestyle Medicine groups are also available for clients who may benefit from peer collaboration and support. Ultimately, Lifestyle Medicine treatment will be personalized and specifically tailored for individual clients in order to help achieve long-term, meaningful health changes leading to a deeply satisfying quality of life.
Merlo G, Vela A. Applying Psychiatry and Psychology Principles to Lifestyle Approaches for Mental and Behavioral Health. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. 2021;0(0). doi:10.1177/15598276211023415