“As we embrace the idea that mental disorders are no longer syndromes but metabolic disorders of the brain, new solutions become obvious.” – Dr. Chris Palmer
Advocating for your health or the health of a loved one can be a scary and overwhelming process. You may be afraid of illness, lack of medical knowledge, be unsure of what to ask, or not want to challenge authority.
It is entirely normal to feel vulnerable and unsure when advocating for your mental and metabolic health. And, it can be especially difficult to bring up a new theory like Brain Energy, which your doctor or healthcare provider may not have knowledge about.
Brain Energy offers new ways to understand mental and metabolic health and offers new and comprehensive treatment strategies. It’s important to be able to tell your doctor why you want to try these strategies.
We recommend that you share Brain Energy with your health care provider prior to the appointment to give your provider a chance to learn about the metabolic theory of mental illness and the treatment strategies that align with Brain Energy.
Prepare for the appointment:
- When making your appointment, ask for a longer, consultation length appointment if possible.
- Take the Brain Energy self-assessment for an overview of your mental and metabolic health. Bring the assessment to your appointment so you can discuss it with your health care provider.
- Be clear on what you want to discuss during your appointment. Write down your questions. Do not be afraid if you feel they are trivial or unimportant, as any question can be valuable.
- Create a priority list of your concerns from the most important to least important in case you are unable to address all of them.
During your appointment:
Regardless of the amount of time allotted for your appointment, make sure you feel heard and listened to by your healthcare provider.
- Some phrases that are helpful to use are: I would like to tell you what my main concerns are today: Does this make sense to you?, I’m not sure if I was clear, Could you tell me what you heard was my biggest concern, or fear, or uncertainty?
- Refer to your prepared list and ask questions. If necessary, ask your doctor to clarify anything you do not understand or ask for it to be explained in another way.
- Be honest and accurate.
- Do not feel embarrassed or ashamed.
- Ask your doctor for an appropriate medical examination and laboratory assessment. This might include a Complete Metabolic Panel (CMP), a Complete Blood Count (CBC), ferritin/iron panel, a thyroid panel, HbA1C, fasting insulin, vitamin levels, hormone levels, a comprehensive lipid panel, ESR/CRP (inflammatory markers), and/or an autoimmune panel .
- If you are unable to discuss everything on your list, ask for a follow up appointment.
In partnership with your healthcare provider, you should:
- Identify factors that are impairing your metabolic health and well-being, such as illness, use of prescription or over-the-counter medications, use of alcohol/cigarettes/vaping devices/drugs, lack of sleep, the amount of stress in your life, and the involvement in abusive or negative relationships.
- Discuss which factors can be reduced, eliminated, managed better, or treated. This may be enough of an intervention to improve some or many of your symptoms.
- Next, look for strategies that will help improve your metabolism.
- Dietary changes
- Improved sleep
- Decreased stress
- Consider your personal relationships and sense of purpose in life
- Discuss implementing these interventions with your health care provider and prioritize one or two to begin with.
- Be sure you receive appropriate support with these interventions.
All of the mental and metabolic treatment strategies are interconnected. Give yourself grace, be patient and understand that you are on a journey to improve your mental and metabolic health. It might be challenging, but it will be worth it! Treat yourself with kindness along the way.
One treatment may not work and or may take time and patience to prove effective. Some interventions may have more immediate results, such as improvement in sleep or changes in nutrition or exercise.
Do not adjust any medications without close supervision of your health care provider.
If your health care provider is not interested in Brain Energy or any of the treatment strategies outlined, ask for his/her treatment recommendations. In the end, you will need to make an informed decision about what treatments and metabolic strategies you are willing to try. If the recommended treatments are not working and your health care provider is unwilling to try treatments and strategies that you are interested in pursuing, you may want to consider getting a second opinion or finding a new provider.
Please remember, Brain Energy does not necessarily replace existing, evidence-based treatments. Some existing treatments have been proven to work, at least for some people. If you have not tried them, please discuss them with your doctor.
Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only and is not medical advice. You should consult with your healthcare provider before starting any treatments for any medical conditions.
Dr. Lauren Fulkerson is a pediatrician and a member of the Brain Energy team.