It is no ordinary feat to keep a complex machine—made up of several micro and macro parts—up and running every day. But the human body, consisting of 37.2 trillion cells and multiple organs, performs this herculean task—from the time we are born until we die. The body manages to achieve this extraordinary feat by functioning as a single unit with the mind.
Research has proven that this mind-body connection is vital for the overall functioning of a human being. The mind and the body are not separate. What affects one affects the other. An imbalance in the body can often find its root in an imbalance in the mind, and vice versa.
Given this mind-body connection, it becomes imperative for any wellbeing treatment to address the concerns of both the mind and the body. Taking this concept further with insights from Eastern and Western systems of medicine, Bangalore-based psychiatrist, Dr. Shyam Bhat uses an integrative approach to treat mental illnesses.
In this exclusive conversation, Dr. Bhat speaks about the importance of the mind-body connection, Integral Self Therapy, and the way forward in the field of psychiatry.
Stress and anxiety are common these days. As a mental health professional, what do you think is the right way to address them?
Anxiety and depression are complex conditions that involve the brain, mind, body, relationships, and lifestyle. Ideally, each of these elements needs to be examined and balanced for the person to feel better. If the condition is severe and other strategies don’t help, then we treat the brain. We have to understand that any alteration of emotion often does involve brain dysfunction, and often, it does need medicine.
Western medicine approaches medical conditions in isolation. The holistic approach, on the other hand, takes a circumspect view of the problem. Could you elaborate?
It is incorrect to think that Western medicine is symptomatic. What it does is treat the root cause that is understood at a cellular or organ level. For example, what is the root cause of diabetes? One way of understanding it is that the pancreas has to have a dysfunction; your insulin receptors have to change; insulin levels have to change and insulin sensitivity has to change. These are all profound insights we have gained about diabetes from Western medicine. Whereas in the Eastern approach, the way they understand the problem is different.
In an ideal situation, what is required is an understanding of both these systems of medicine, both these approaches to the problem, and the use of both in a synergistic manner. Let’s understand what is happening at a scientific, genetic, cellular, and organ level, and also understand what the imbalance is in the entire system, which is what Eastern medicine is about. We need to understand both perspectives.