This paper reports a study of the nonlinear partial differential equation that arises in the local potential approximation to the Wetterich formulation of the functional renormalization group equation. A cut-off-dependent shift of the potential in this partial differential equation is performed. This shift allows a perturbative asymptotic treatment of the differential equation for large values of the infrared cut-off. To leading order in perturbation theory the differential equation becomes a heat equation, where the sign of the diffusion constant changes as the space-time dimension D passes through 2. When D < 2, one obtains a forward heat equation whose initial-value problem is well-posed. However, for D > 2 one obtains a backward heat equation whose initial-value problem is ill-posed. For the special case D = 1 the asymptotic series for cubic and quartic models is extrapolated to the small infrared-cut-off limit by using Padé techniques. The effective potential thus obtained from the partial differential equation is then used in a Schrödinger-equation setting to study the stability of the ground state. For cubic potentials it is found that this Padé procedure distinguishes between a -symmetric theory and a conventional Hermitian theory (g real). For an theory the effective potential is nonsingular and has a stable ground state but for a conventional theory the effective potential is singular. For a conventional Hermitian theory and a -symmetric theory (g > 0) the results are similar; the effective potentials in both cases are nonsingular and possess stable ground states.