You Need to Treat both Your Symptoms and the Cause!
Our bodies and mind have limited ways of showing us we are not feeling well. You may sneeze, sweat, feel dizzy, or have a stomach ache or headache. You may have racing thoughts or trouble sleeping. You may be irritable and lose your temper. You may feel confused or have trouble remembering things. These are all called symptoms. Symptoms are physical and/or mental features that indicate an underlying condition or disease. This condition or disease is the cause of the symptoms.
While it is natural to want to treat the symptoms, it’s important to determine and treat the cause. For example, if you have a runny nose, this is a symptom that something is going on in your body. You could have allergies, a virus or a bacterial infection. It could also be caused from a sensitivity to specific smells or simply just from crying.
To stop the runny nose, you will likely use lots of tissues, and perhaps take an over-the-counter remedy. These ways treat the symptom, the runny nose. To stop the symptoms, you need to figure out the actual cause. For instance, taking an antibiotic for a runny nose caused by an allergy won’t stop your nose from running. You would need to figure out what is causing your allergies, and then take the right medicine or eliminate the allergen.
Complexity of Causes
As you are keenly aware many symptoms may be based on complex causes that are occurring at the same time, such as pain, anxiety and trauma.
To better understand the complexity of causes, I would like you to imagine this scenario. You are standing outside a window on a chilly day. Looking inside the window, you can see a woman sitting in a chair near a fireplace with the fire ablaze. You can tell she is about 45 years old, and can see that she is dripping with sweat. Sweating is the symptom.
What is the cause of her sweating?
- Is the room too hot?
- Does she have a fever?
- Is she anxious or nervous?
- Does she have food poisoning?
- Does she have diabetes?
- Is she having a hot flash?
- Does she have Lyme Disease?
The potential answers range from having all seven issues individually or concurrently.
So, it is extremely important to differentiate which cause ranks the highest in order to find the appropriate solution to help her. The solution would be the methods and treatments to treat the cause.
In my practice
I have seen people who had emotional symptoms caused by a brain injury. And others with the same types of emotional symptoms yet caused by hormonal imbalance or infection.
One of my dear friends got a urinary tract infection (UTI) causing symptoms which landed her in a psychiatric ward. In a similar situation, another person I know was committed to a psychiatric ward from symptoms of Lyme Disease. Emotional symptoms presented in both cases. Yet, not as a result of chemical imbalance of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin. The symptoms were caused by undiagnosed and untreated bacterial infections. They needed antibiotics, not psychiatric care!
Unfortunately, these types of scenarios happen too often. Current treatment methods simply address the symptoms and not the cause. In some situations, the causes are never addressed and a person lives with ongoing symptoms.
Dr. Diane®‘s 5 Prong Approach
This is why I developed Dr. Diane®‘s 5 Prong Approach, an integrative approach to evaluating presenting symptoms.
Regardless of the presenting problem or situation, you as a person are seen from the five distinct views that make up our approach: physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual and energy. Often these areas intertwine.
Looking for the core issue from this vantage point allows for a concise individualized treatment program to be developed to address the presenting symptoms.
The physical aspect includes any current physical condition or prior injury to your brain or body. Genetics play a very important role in the physical area. When you go to your doctor, they ask about your family history. If there is a history of heart issues, diabetes, and/or cancer for example, you are at a higher risk of getting this. In my situation, my mother, uncle, and cousin all had some form of lymphoma or leukemia, and my first cousin had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, so it was no shock that I developed Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Not all physical issues are caused by genetics, of course, there are accidents and injuries and infections. Research in microbes shows how viruses and bacteria affect the gut and brain, leading to a wide variety of physical and mental symptoms, including anxiety, hormonal imbalance, mood disorders and many more. Thus, it is extremely important to clearly evaluate the cause of these symptoms.
If you have experienced attachment issues, neglect, physical or emotional abuse, sexual abuse, or a traumatic event, such as witnessing a mass shooting you may have emotional issues. Depending on when these events occurred, your symptoms of anxiety or sleep problems may be the result of developmental trauma disorder, or complex trauma or PTSD. A brain injury or concussion can also cause emotional issues. Yes, it is important to address the sleep and anxiety, however clearly the treatment of both is vastly different.
Psychological includes bio-chemical, variations in hormones and neurotransmitters and neuromodulators and basic temperament.
Physical and mental symptoms can be caused by an imbalance in neurotransmitters (Acetylcholine and GABA) and neuromodulators (Serotonin and Dopamine). Imbalance of neurotransmitters and neuromodulators cause symptoms seen in sleep disorders, mood disorders, anxiety, racing thoughts, delusions and paranoia.
Yet in recent years there is evidence that viruses, bacteria and various hormones can also be the cause, rather than an imbalance of neurotransmitters and neuromodulators. Again, it is important to determine the cause, to determine the appropriate treatment.
The spiritual component relates to how you feel connected to God, the universe or one another.
Symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, depression, the blues, and apathy, just to mention a few, are symptoms which can be caused from a disconnect to nature and the universe. You do not have to belong to a religious organization or specific belief system, yet the intrinsic universal connection to all living things in and of itself is a healing power. The absence of it, in many cases, is the main cause of a vast majority of symptoms and illness.
The energy component relates to the universal energy in your body around all living things, called, Chi” or “Qi’. The study and understanding of subtle energy go back over 4,000 years. Chinese and Asian medicine first discovered this and presented the various meridians of the body. From this evolved Chi Gong, Polarity and Reiki to name a few types of treatments to balance “Chi” in the body. Imbalance of ‘Chi” can cause symptoms of anxiety, cognitive issues, sleep problems, chronic pain. Not to be confused with physical or emotional causes.
Consider All the Symptoms
By considering all symptoms, such as night sweats, chills, hives, anxiety, racing thoughts, headaches, and chronic pain, just a few, a determination of further testing and evaluations may be needed.
These could include:
- Endocrine evaluation of hormones and hormone levels, along with levels of various vitamins such as B6, B-12 or D and amino acid.
- Nutritional evaluation to adjust foods and nutrients that might be causing various symptoms, such as eliminating cane sugar for people with concussion.
- Tests to evaluated virus and bacteria through the body especially the gut and lungs.
- Testing to evaluate levels of neurotransmitters and neuromodulators in your system.
- EKG or stress test to assess cardiac function.
- Brain functioning assessments, such as Quantitative EEG called a QEEG, and Spec Scan.
- Single Weight Imaging (SWI) MRI to look for structural damage of the gray matter
- Neuropsychological testing to evaluate emotional, cognitive and processing abilities in your brain.
- Energy assessment – there are various standardized methods used in Energy Psychology from muscle testing and evaluation of chakras. Advanced Acupuncturist have various methods of evaluating energy blockage in the body.
- To evaluate spiritual, there are not any standardized methods, however working with clergy, healers and spiritual leaders could lead to a discovery of your belief system and ways to further connect.
Individualized Treatment Program
Throughout the world there are still many practitioners who embrace and understand this integrative approach, and with a compassionate heart can prescribe specific treatment programs for both the symptoms and causes of those symptoms. However, our current medical system and health insurance system has caused many skilled clinicians to limit patient appointments to 15 minutes. Additionally, many of the various tests are no longer covered by insurance, let alone the various treatments. Some health insurance plans will not cover forms of physical therapy such as water therapy, or non-generic medication. I have one patient who only gets relief by taking a certain medication, which is very expensive. Yet her insurance company will only pay for the generic version which only makes her sick. She and her physician have complained about it, yet the insurance company continues to refuse to pay for the medication that helps her.
In a recent study in Canada at a world renowned ADD clinic, they discovered that there were children misdiagnosed with ADHD and given the medication Ritalin as a result. When they administered the QEEG at the time of the ADHD symptoms, it was discovered the children were having subclinical seizures. Instead of giving them Ritalin for ADHD, they started treating the subclinical seizures, and the symptoms of ADHD went away.
If you want to overcome symptoms you are experiencing you need to treat the cause(s) of those symptoms. Using the 5 Prong Approach you can encourage your medical or alternative medical team explore the various components that make up the 5 Prong Approach and find the specific treatment for that component (s) that are causing your symptom. Then and only then, along with your desire to overcome your symptoms will it come to be. The latter component is extremely important. For over the years, I’ve treated people who believe nothing can help them, and you know what? They are correct. When doctors told me, I would not regain my life again after brain injury, and that I would never walk or talk the same, I choose to believe I could regain my life. And I did. This belief relates to the spiritual aspect.
Thus, if you want to truly get better, the best solution is the combination of all 5 aspects of the 5 Prong Approach of evaluating and treatment of the symptoms and the causes.