Overcoming Stress, Anxiety, And Depression Through Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
A lot of acupuncturists work with several patients who are struggling with:
SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
These practitioners are aware that your emotional health can affect your physical health and vice versa; your emotions can be affected by your physical health.
Anxiety, for a lot of individuals, seems to appear out of the blue and sneaks up at unexpected times. For some, anxiety is associated with certain situations, fears, or events and is usually predictable. Anxiety can potentially arise from asinine things such as spiders, eating in restaurants, or driving on the highway.
You should be familiar with anxiety symptoms if you’ve experienced panic or anxiety attacks. The symptoms may be varied and include a feeling that you might die at this moment, fear, shortness of breath, feeling of lightheadedness, tingling and numbness in your feet and hands, tightness in the chest, and heart palpitations or a racing heart.
Anxiety can be caused by a number of factors. Its most common reason is traumatic events. If you have been exposed to threats, emotional duress, violence, or trauma of any kind, you may be aware of the source of your anxiety. This may be constant worrying and stress over a situation or life event that’s difficult to resolve.
Anxiety, from the perspective of Chinese medicine, is viewed as out of control worry. A specific emotion is associated with a certain organ system and worry is an emotion affiliated with the Spleen system. This organ system is also the system that controls digestion. It sorts and sifts the food you’ve eaten, includes what is useful, rids the foods that’s not needed, and converts useful foods into nutrients that fuel your body. While food digestion is mainly the function of the Spleen, this organ system is also responsible for the sorting and sifting of ideas. While worry is the emotion the Spleen is associated with, worry can also be the same as not being able to sort through and release unnecessary ideas. Worry is a form of sick rumination, and it turns into fear and anxiety when it gets out of control.
While the organ of digestion is your Spleen in Chinese medicine, the organ of feeling is your Heart. We know intuitively that the Heart is an organ that feels emotions. Our heart feels things – it can be broken (broken hearted) or can thank a person sincerely (”thank you from the bottom of my heart”). In Chinese medicine, this is the organ system where your spirit or Shen is housed. In Western medicine, the function of the heart is similar to the function of the brain. The Heart is where thinking, emotions, memory, and consciousness reside. The Heart is always involved when a person experiences anxiety or any kind of emotional condition or upset.
Finally, the kidney organ system can also contribute to anxiety in a couple of ways. Firstly, fear, the underlying component of anxiety, is an emotion associated with the Kidney. Secondly, the Kidney is the most nourishing and the deepest of our organs. It’s the wellspring of all the fundamental substances in our body including Essence and Yin and Yang. It is also responsible for our underlying body constitution and in how well we age. Among all the organ systems, the Kidney is the system that’s most affected by anxiety and stress. In Chinese medicine, depletion of the kidney corresponds to adrenal fatigue (overwork, anxiety, stress, etc.) in Western medicine.
For anyone suffering from anxiety, acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help via a number of effective strategies. Your acupuncturist/practitioner will first calm your Shen with acupuncture. As studies demonstrate acupuncture’s effect on the chemistry of the brain, this treatment has been proven as an effective first line of defense. Acupuncture has been shown to help boost the production and release of endorphins in the bloodstream. Endorphins are the feel good neurotransmitters in our body that allow us to experience a euphoria known as “runner’s high” and help relieve pain and discomfort in the body. The calming and relaxing feeling patients feel during and after an acupuncture session can be attributed to these neurotransmitters.
Chinese medicine practitioners also address anxiety by restoring the health of the Kidneys and nourishing the Spleen. Besides acupuncture, they may also use herbal remedies and other effective safe treatments that can help alleviate anxiety. A combination of herbs may be prescribed by the practitioner based on the patient’s specific needs.
Lifestyle changes and food therapy can also be utilized to help treat anxiety. They may include breathing techniques, dietary modifications, avoidance of tea, coffee and other stimulants, and calming strategies you can perform at home. All these are effective ways in ameliorating anxiety.
In our modern way of living, most of us are deeply immersed with various responsibilities and roles. There are times that the stressful nature of our lives can be so unsatisfying or overwhelming. Living with stress for a long time keeps our body in a state of constant readiness and this depletes us and disrupts the balance of many of our hormones.
How stress makes you ill can be explained by Chinese medicine practitioners in a manner different from the explanation of modern Western medicine. The practitioners believe that energy moves smoothly within our body via a web of energy pathways called meridians. Anxiety or stress can disrupt this flow by blocking qi flow in one or more meridians. People who are under severe stress often suffer from neck, shoulder, and/or upper/lower back pain. The reason for this is that stress causes tension in those parts of the body, obstructing the smooth movement of energy, producing tightness, pain, and even headaches.
The meridians in our body can be likened to a highway system. When there is traffic, an accident, or a road construction on the highway, traffic may be backed up on secondary roads that come out of or feed into the area in question. The same thing tends to happen in our body. Stress can affect several other areas of your body, including our immunity, pain conditions, our ability to sleep, and our digestive function, among others. If you are already suffering from a problematic health condition, stress can aggravate that condition.
These energy blockages can be removed with acupuncture. We all have acupuncture points in our body that when stimulated can turn on and off the flow of energy in our energy highway. This can help restore or slow down the smooth flow of energy, and relieve not only the stress symptoms, but stress itself.
Depression is one of the most common mood disorders treated by acupuncturist/practitioners. Depression, for a lot of people, can be short-lived and mild. For some, it can be chronic, extreme, and can severely affect the daily activities of these people. For transitory and mild depression, acupuncture in Maitland can be a very effective treatment; for people suffering from extreme depressive disorder, it can be a good adjunctive therapy.
Depression is connected to Liver energy stagnation that’s similar to energy stagnation when you’re under stress. In Chinese medicine, the natural element of wood is affiliated with the Liver. In this regard, the qualities of wood and plants are also the qualities of the Liver system, in Chinese medicine. Though they grow strongly, plants can maintain their flexibility. Plants will break if they don’t have the ability to bend or don’t have flexibility. The Liver system is responsible for smooth, yet strong flow of everything in our body–emotions, menstruation, digestion, and energy.
Liver Qi or Liver energy can stagnate and lead to illness when you’re not emotionally flexible. When life throws you a curve ball or when you’re stressed, your capacity to “go with the flow” is a major causal factor in your health–both mental and physical. Our world is a world with lots of expectations and wants and we often believe that we can control almost everything. When things don’t go the way we want, or when we try to “muscle” a situation that’s beyond our control, the anger and frustration that may potentially arise can stagnate our Liver energy. A metaphor for this is a basket that‘s left covering the new sprouts in a garden. The plants that are covered from the sun don’t grow quite well causing the plants to grow deformed or even wither away for lack or deprivation of sunlight. In your body, the repercussions can be wide-ranging: pain, digestive disorders, insomnia accompanying depression.