Anxiety and Depression can be devastating when they are strong enough to stop people from functioning in their daily lives. These mental/emotional states are often hard to notice on the outside, and so for many people suffering from them, they go unnoticed despite what they are feeling on the inside. For some people anxiety can be just nervousness or feeling jittery, but some people can be crippled by panic attacks where breathlessness and a pounding heartbeat make them lose their ability to deal with day to day tasks. Depression as well can range from being down for a few days or weeks to clinical depression plagued by lack of motivation, low energy, and possibly suicidal thinking. Most often anxiety and depression are treated with a combination of medications and some form of counseling. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can be a great resource for people living with anxiety and depression, either used as an adjunctive and complementary treatment alongside medications and counseling or as a single treatment method. Several studies have shown the increased effectiveness of using acupuncture and herbs to either treat anxiety and depression or as a supplement to conventional medications and counseling. Either way, Chinese medicine has a unique way of looking at stress and depression and offers many options for treatments including acupuncture, herbal medicine, dietary therapy and tai chi and qi gong exercises.
Chinese medicine views anxiety as coming from the heart. The heart is said to be the seat of the mind and is considered the most important of the body’s organs. The heart can become weakened through a deficiency of qi or blood, either do to traumatic events, constitutional weakness, or lifestyle choices, which can result in feelings of anxiety, heart palpitations, sweating and shortness of breath. Often times, other organs are implicated in anxiety as well, often times the Liver and Kidneys may play a role. Chinese medicines system of differential diagnosis allows practitioners the ability to see why the anxiety is occurring and take steps to address both the symptoms and root cause. There are several acupuncture points dedicated to calming the heart and mind and helping the body calm down from anxiety and panic attacks. There are also several herbal formulas that are designed specifically for anxiety that are safe to use long-term. In addition herbal formulas can be customized to address the individual’s needs and situation. Changes in diet and lifestyle can also help to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and can also help address the root issue.
Depression is most often implicated with the Liver in Chinese medicine. The Liver is responsible for the free flowing of qi, blood, and the emotions throughout the body. When the liver becomes overtaxed through stress, high emotions, or lifestyle and dietary issues, the Liver can slow down or cease to circulate qi, blood, and the emotions correctly. This stagnation can cause a variety of symptoms such as mood swings ranging from anger and irritability to sadness and depression, as well as other symptoms like insomnia, poor appetite, stomach aches, a lack of motivation, headaches, and low energy as well as other symptoms. Similar to anxiety, other organs can also be indicated in cases of depression such as the Lungs, the Spleen and the Kidneys. Again, the differential diagnosis process allows a practitioner the ability to find the underlying reason for the depression and then select the appropriate treatment whether that is herbs, acupuncture, diet and lifestyle changes, or a combination of all three.
Anxiety and Depression can both be very serious issues that can either lead to or underlie a critical health issue. The symptoms of anxiety can be a precursor to heart attacks or strokes and so should be evaluated by a healthcare professional. In addition, long term untreated depression can lead to suicidal thinking and possibly suicidal attempts. Both of these conditions should be evaluated by appropriate healthcare providers.
I have found great success treating anxiety and depression using acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. If you are in Aurora CO, Denver CO, or any of the surrounding cities and are interested in learning more about acupuncture and anxiety and depression, please do not hesitate to call or email me, I would love to speak with you!