Acupuncture Therapy for Depression, Anxiety and Neuroses
In Traditional Chinese Medicine(TCM) Depression, Anxiety, and Neuroses are seen as a sign of some imbalances in the body. There are clinical studies that indicate that acupuncture therapy used in conjunction with prescribed medication can prove helpful in alleviating mild and severe cases. Ask your practitioner for more information if you are interested in the results of these studies.
Sometimes, well-meaning friends, family, and even online motivation gurus will tell you that depression, anxiety and other neuroses are things you can switch off or on if you choose. This is definitely not the TCM approach any more than it is the approach of GPs and specialists.
Let’s start by defining our terms:
Depression: a pronounced feeling of lowness, heaviness and despair that is generalised and persistent. It is not simply ‘feeling down’ and, while it may be triggered by some life event, it can also be non-specific. So, if you have recently heard some bad news, suffered a loss, or are working longer hours and not sleeping enough, your low energy, low motivation and low spirits are not necessarily depression; it can be a normal response to a loss of some kind.
Anxiety: a generalised, persistent feeling of uncertainty and pessimism. Again, this is not the same as feeling anxious about a specific event or outcome (eg. exam results).
Neuroses: This broad term covers many aspects of moodiness, irrational over reaction, and anger that is not triggered by a specific event or outcome.
These conditions (whether mild or severe, pre-clinical or clinical) can affect all areas of our life. They have an impact on our energy, sleep, concentration, focus and memory, as well as our relationships and enthusiasm for life. Seeking help is a good step to take, to bring about changes to improve your health. In fact, as last month’s newsletter article on sleep explained, anything that interrupts our sleep will have a run-on effect to other areas of life.
Why is Acupuncture Therapy Helpful?
Acupuncture Therapy has many facets. This is an umbrella term for all the clinical interventions that stimulate the energy meridians in your body and help to clear blockages and return the body to balance. This is a group of modalities used in the treatment room which includes: different forms of moxibustion; cupping (stationary and walking); spooning (or gua sha); needle and laser acupuncture; electro-acupuncture; reflexology and many other interventions.
Acupuncture releases the ‘feel good hormones like dopamine, serotonin and endorphin (which is why doing sustained cardio workouts, sharing chocolate, wine, and laughter feel so good). These neurotransmitters help you relax and lift your mood. You don’t need to be depressed, anxious, or neurotic to benefit from the endorphins released via acupuncture therapy.
As you know, TCM is about creating balance and harmony throughout your mind and body, and acupuncture therapy is a major element in achieving this balance. While we’re not suggesting that you shouldn’t also use exercise, and other means of releasing these ‘feel good’ hormones, we do believe that acupuncture addresses the underlying aspects of the imbalance in an efficient and effective manner. This means that the results are likely to last longer, especially as your course of acupuncture therapy progresses and your whole body becomes more balanced.
Using Chinese Herbs to Relieve Depression, Anxiety, and Neurosis
In general, the use of Chinese herbal formulas may be helpful for your conditions; but we are careful to avoid any cross-reactions that may occur with any existing prescribed medications. This is something we are trained in, which is why we recommend having a consultation with a registered and qualified Chinese Medicine practitioner before starting any Chinese herbal supplements regime. In fact, we recommend that you also discuss with your doctor or pharmacist, the effects of any OTC (over the counter) supplements or vitamins you may be taking, in case they have any cross-reactions with your medication. We are always happy to talk to your doctor about your requirements if you would like us to do so.
Most of our clients say that they feel more relaxed and positive after acupuncture therapy, and feel they can face the stresses of daily life and make empowered choices. As a result, they find it easier to release negative thoughts and emotions about their everyday life and relationships, and make healthy choices about food and exercise. This makes acupuncture a powerful way to achieve your health goals and lift your spirits.
Jayne has been seeing a psychologist for several months and is on anti-anxiety medicine. Her psychologist suggested that she come to BnH to see if acupuncture would help her sleep better. After talking to her and reading the referral letter from her doctor I used acupuncture to help rebalance the energy in her body, mind, and emotions. I focused on her heart and kidney meridians to calm her busy mind and stop it jumping around, while releasing serotonin, dopamine and other feel-good hormones.
Since she is on medication during the day (with the approval of her doctor), I prescribed herbs to take at night to promote sleep. She felt better almost immediately and began to sleep better. As a result she was more able to cope with every area of life and her psychologist immediately noticed a great improvement and recommended that she continue her acupuncture sessions and Chinese herbs with me.
Adam came to see us with mild depression. He was lethargic, had sustained low moods, dark thoughts and feelings of hopelessness. Since he had previously experienced clinical depression, he recognised the symptoms, especially the strong lack of motivation and he came to see us in the hopes of catching it early.
Previously, he had been on anti-depressants while being supported by acupuncture, and the acupuncture had really helped. This time he is keen to avert the need for anti-depressants. I am using acupuncture with moxa (this activates energy faster), have prescribed some herbs and he has modified his diet to help support his health and energy. I am targeting his heart and kidney meridians as well as his liver and gallbladder energy to stimulate motivation. After 3 treatments, he has seen a measurable improvement in his condition.
While these results cannot be generalised or exactly reproduced, these examples gives readers an idea of what Chinese Medicine and acupuncture therapy can do.
Are You Getting The Most Value Out Of Your Practitioner?
Your Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner probably has a great deal more to offer you than you are aware and it’s your job to ask them for recommendations and discuss any questions you have with them.
Unfortunately (or fortunately?), we’re not mind-readers and we don’t know exactly what is going on in your life unless you tell us. However, most problems signal their presence through your body, so your practitioner will observe the signs and symptoms of emotional distress, anxiety, stress, depression, exhaustion etc. and can address them effectively without actually saying anything to you.
One of the most common areas we can add value is with your emotional well-being. You know how sometimes life just seems overwhelming? Reaching out to anyone seems impossible, restful sleep escapes you, your appetite is either ravenous or non-existent, you feel insecure and anxious and generally unhappy without any clearly defined cause… These are all symptoms of mild depression that will run down your immunity and waste your energy – even if you ignore these symptoms, tell yourself that they will go away, and pretend they don’t exist. The insidious thing about depression is that it is hard to pin down and even harder to acknowledge that you are struggling with it, but it is extremely common and the chances are that if you mention how you are feeling to someone, they will probably have experienced it themselves.
The lovely thing about your TCM practitioner is that you don’t have to say very much at all about the nature of your problem and we can still identify it and intervene effectively. Acupuncture, massage, and Chinese herbs will help unblock your Qi energy and provide your body with the nutrients it needs to heal and support your emotions. As the blockages are released, your negative emotions will also release and you will start to feel more buoyant and energised.
Of course, it’s not just a matter of getting your TCM practitioner to intervene. We suggest that you take the following steps as well:
- Identify people and situations which upset you and take steps to deal with them or move them out of your life.
- Align yourself with people who nurture you and make you laugh.
- Ask for help from someone you trust so that they understand where you are at.
- Actively pursue your TCM practitioner for recommendations about when your next treatment should be, if there are any herbs you should be taking, foods to include or avoid, and every other area of life. We truly want to help, but we don’t want you to think we are pushing unwanted treatments and interventions down your throat.
Most of all we’d like you to know that all the staff at our clinic respect your privacy, and care about you. We want you to enjoy the best possible health in every area of your life: mind, body, spirit and emotions, and we will do everything we possibly can to help you – if you ask us for help……