“We must make mental health problems visible and take away the taboo”

Dr. Christian Kcomt is a psychiatrist based in Pennsylvania, United States, who believes in balancing all aspects of his patients’ lives: biological, mental, emotional and spiritual, in order to achieve true health. In this interview for the 3Love Inc. blog, we talk about the importance of mental health, the different types of treatment that contribute to generate greater well-being in people, among other topics.


Today, more than ever, there is talk about the importance of mental health. How does mental health impact a person’s life?


Mental health has not been given much attention in several countries, especially in Peru and other Latin American countries. Today, in the United States, depression and anxiety are the number one cause of work disability. It has already surpassed heart problems and other health problems. So there is much more attention to this issue. Mental health is very important, because it impacts your work life, your social life and your personal life. It is very important to take that into account.


How can a person identify that there is some aspect of their mental health that could be improved and requires help?


When the dividing line between moods, sadness, stress, etc. already becomes a depressive and anxiety disorder that is when it already affects your work and social functioning. When due to those symptoms of depression and anxiety you cannot function at work or socially, that is one of the criteria that already becomes a depressive disorder or anxiety disorder.


How can you achieve a proper balance between all aspects of a person’s life: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual?


I studied medicine in Peru and psychiatry in the United States, but my goal was always to be more holistic, more integrative in my treatment. That led me to study with Dr. Andrew Weil, who is in charge of everything that has to do with Integrative Medicine in the United States. And I also studied with Dr. Deepak Chopra, who is in charge of Ayurvedic medicine, which is the medicine of ancient India, which combines yoga, meditation, nutrition, supplements and vitamins. So here at the Center for Wellbeing we do use medications, if needed, but at the same time we also recommend a healthy diet according to the problems you have, also exercises, supplements, vitamins and minerals, yoga, meditation and also Reiki or healing therapy. So we complement all that to make an integral treatment.


So holistic medicine integrates all aspects of a person’s life?


Exactly. Holistic medicine is inclusive, it is not exclusive. That is why for a person with depression, depending on the depression he/she has, I can give him/her medication and at the same time I give him/her a special diet for depression, special exercises for depression, we also give him/her vitamins and types of medication for depression. We also do blood tests, because it is known that deficiencies of many vitamins and alterations of hormones cause depression. Depression is only a symptom and we have to investigate what the source is. There are usually three types of sources. One: it is a genetic problem, a biochemical balance of the brain. Two: it could be psychological trauma from your childhood, such as physical, mental and sexual abuse that has not been processed. And three: disorders such as lack of vitamins, lack of minerals or hormonal problems that cause depression.


Could you tell us about some of the therapies or treatments you do with your patients to improve their mental health?


For the healing to be real and lasting, you have to treat the symptoms from four aspects: the physical aspect, with medicines if needed, vitamins, nutrition, exercises; the mental aspect, with psychotherapy in case you have problems of mental, physical or sexual abuse in your childhood; the emotional aspect, with psychotherapy and also emotional techniques; and the spiritual aspect, which is not attached to any religion, but spirituality means how one relates to the universe. There are different techniques, we also do Reiki, which is based on Ayurvedic information and knowledge, based on the chakras. Reiki is an alignment of the chakras. I always tell the patient, “This is nothing scientific, there are no articles in medical journals, but at least you have to be open to that and try it, because it is not invasive at all and you don’t lose anything.” From my own experience, it is very relaxing and very healing. We also try a meditation technique, that’s the main thing. No person who has achieved anything in life has not had a meditation technique, it’s impossible. Meditation centers you and makes you more self-aware, that is, to realize that you are aware of things.


How can we contribute to create greater awareness in society about mental health problems in children and adolescents?


The first thing is to make it visible. Many years ago, in my grandparents’ time, mental health problems were a taboo subject, not talked about and even hidden. But we are all human beings and we all have things to improve. So, more than anything else, parents should be educated so that the child’s problem is made visible and, when it is made visible, it can be treated in an adequate way, without creating any problem or sense of guilt in the child. Many times, people get confused and say: “Someone has depression, so let’s go out to the movies or eat something, so that they can clear their head”, but when depression becomes a depressive disorder, when there is a chemical imbalance in your brain, it is no longer enough to go out to the movies, is it?


What role should parents of children and adolescents with mental health problems play in helping them get better and recover?


The first thing is to recognize that having problems with depression, anxiety, bipolarity, schizophrenia or psychosis is an illness, just like diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid problems, etc. And therefore, it needs treatment. We must remove the taboo on these types of mental problems.


By: Juan Carlos Ugarelli

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