© TCM Ireland | Article written by @SandroGraca and @SiobhanSeville | @tcmireland
All of us at sometime or other have dealt with major upheavals or emotional distress in our lives. These can cause an array of sudden and unexpected feelings behaviours from depression, panic attacks, angry outbursts and deep sadness. It can also have a major effect on the persons sleep and eating patterns.
We are all living in the fast lane of life with trying to juggle with the pressures of work or family, trying to keep up with bills or just coping with the ups and downs of life – what we commonly call “stress”.
All these feelings are a healthy response to events in our lives that may feel beyond our control. When we are healthy, we are generally able to cope with the stress and will find that it is short-lived. We are usually able to recover without too much impact on our overall health.
When the stress is over-whelming and lasts a long time, this can lead to anxiety, disturbed sleep, depression, fatigue, digestive problems and tension headaches.
It affects everyone differently as we are all individuals but whether it is short lived or long term is does have an effect on our emotional and physical health.
This is where acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can help. It not only can alleviate symptoms associated with mental health issues, it can also treat the root cause of the problem by helping to rebalance the body internally.
Acupuncture, massage, cupping and Chinese herbal medicine can be very effective in restoring wellbeing.
What are Mental Health Disorders?
Mental health disorders are medical conditions that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others, and daily functioning which result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.
Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and borderline personality disorder. The good news about mental disorders is that recovery is often possible.
Mental disorders can affect persons of any age, race, religion, or income. They have been found to be common. Experts estimate that almost a third of people in most countries report sufficient criteria at some point in their life.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Mental Disorders
According to Chinese Medicine theory, mental illness occurs when there is imbalance within the body.
Chinese Medicine does not recognize any mental disorder as one particular syndrome. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of techniques such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage, lifestyle/dietary recommendations and exercises to restore imbalances in the body.
Therefore, if 50 patients are treated with Chinese medicine for anxiety, each of these 50 people will receive a individual land customized treatment. The physical and emotional symptoms that you are experiencing will help create a clear picture on which your practitioner can create a treatment plan specifically for you.
TCM sees that stress, anxiety, depression or any strong emotions has an effect on the smooth movement of energy (Qi) and blood throughout the body. Stress, anger, or any intense emotions blocks the free flow of energy in the body.
Many people who are very stressed out complain of upper back, shoulder and neck pain. This is because stress is causing tension in those areas, blocking the free flow of energy and blood, causing pain, tightness, and often leading to headaches.
Stress may affect other parts of the body, digestion, the ability to sleep, pain conditions, and blood pressure. Stress can also aggravate an already troublesome health condition.
Acupuncture points are use to help the energy and blood to flow smoothly, and alleviate not only the symptoms of stress and anxiety, but the stress and anxiety itself.
The Acupuncture Treatment
Acupuncture points to treat the emotional and physical effects of mental health disorders are located all over the body.
There seems to be little sensitivity to the insertion of acupuncture needles. They are so thin that several acupuncture needles can go into the middle of a hypodermic needle. Occasionally, there is a brief moment of discomfort as the needle penetrates the skin, but once the needles are in place, most people relax and even fall asleep for the duration of the treatment.
The length, number and frequency of treatments will vary. Typical treatments last from five to 30 minutes, with the patient being treated one or two times a week. Some symptoms are relieved after the first treatment, while more severe or chronic ailments often require multiple treatments.
Study of Acupuncture for Depression
Since the early seventies, studies around the globe have suggested that treating mental health disorders with acupuncture has a positive and holistic effect on depressed patients, particularly when used in combination with psychotherapy and herbal treatments.
Psychologist John Allen, from the University of Arizona in Tucson, and Acupuncturist Rosa Schnyer, conducted the very first pilot controlled study on treating depression symptoms with acupuncture in the Western scientific world. In a double blind randomized study, 34 depressed female patients who met the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria were assigned to one of three treatment groups for eight weeks.
The first group received acupuncture treatment specifically tailored to their depression symptoms. The second group received a general acupuncture treatment not specific to depression, and the third group was placed on a waiting list for acupuncture treatment, but received no treatment. The study found that those in the tailored acupuncture treatment experienced a significant reduction in symptoms, compared to those in the non-specific treatment. Moreover, over 50% of the participants no longer met the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for depression after the study.
The study findings suggest that using acupuncture alone could be as effective as other types of treatments for relieving depression symptoms typically used in Western medicine, such as psychotherapy and drugs.
If you have any questions, or if you want to find out more about the treatments available in our clinics, please feel free to contact us.