How Acupuncture can treat Anxiety
9th November 2018
I am often asked if Acupuncture can help with anxiety and my answer is a most definite YES.
Anxiety is a term used to describe many varying symptoms. The NHS describes anxiety as a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe.
The symptoms can be both psychological (mental) and physical symptoms. These vary from person to person, but can include:
Medication such as anti-depressants and/ or a course of cognitive behavioural therapy are often prescribed by GP’s to help deal with the symptoms. These can both be very effective treatments. In fact over 7 million people in the UK take anti-depressants. That’s 1 in 6 adults. But sometimes they are not the right solution. Some patients don’t want to take medication, some can’t due to side effects and the waiting list for CBT counselling can be up to 6 months long.
Traditional Chinese Medicine offers an alternative approach to anti-depressants and can be very effective at treating anxiety disorders.
History of TCM
TCM began in China thousands of years ago and has evolved to be the medical practice used today. The Chinese methodology of diagnosis is very different to a Western approach and is founded on the principles of balancing Yin and Yang, and establishing a smooth flow of Qi and blood around the body and organs. Illness occurs when there is an imbalance of Yin and Yang and a stagnation of Qi and/ blood.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), generalised anxiety disorder is understood as a disorder of Shan You Si and is thought to affect the Zang Organs (Yin organs which are the Heart, Spleen, Liver, Kidney and Lungs).
While the Heart Zang is said to store the Shen or spirit, which includes emotional responses to stimuli. Traditional theory also holds that each of the other Zang Organs play a role in the emotions as well.
- the Spleen Zang is associated with excessive worry
- the Liver with anger
- the Kidney with fear and fright
- the Lung with grief, the inability to let go, and anxiety.
When there is a disturbance in one or more of these Zang organs from any cause, an imbalanced emotional state can occur. Conversely, an imbalanced emotional state can cause a Zang organ disturbance.
In other words, the emotions can affect the health of the body, and illness in the body can affect the emotions.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Categories of Generalised Anxiety Disorder
So we can see that in TCM, there can be many reasons why the feelings of anxiety are present. Each of the Zang (Yin) organs can have a part to play and as such treatments are complex. For each patient, the acupuncturist must be able to understand which organs are imbalanced and to what extent they are interacting with each other. The acupuncturist pieces together the signs and symptoms of the patient by questioning and listening, looking at the tongue and taking a pulse diagnosis.
Several different diagnosis’ can be given, such as:
- Heart/Spleen Qi Deficiency: This Pattern of Disharmony manifests as anxiety, preoccupation, obsessive worry, aversion to speaking, palpitations, insomnia, fatigue, poor appetite, abdominal distention, a pale tongue, and weak pulse.
- Lung Qi Deficiency: This Pattern of Disharmony manifests as anxiety, preoccupation, rapidly changing moods, an inability to “let go,” aversion to speaking, shortness of breath, fatigue, sweating easily upon exertion, a weak cough, a pale tongue with a thin white coating, and a thin pulse.
- Liver Qi Stagnation Affecting the Spleen: This Pattern of Disharmony manifests as anxiety, preoccupation, feelings of irritability, moodiness, poor appetite, hypochondriac tightness or pain, muscular tension, fatigue, alternating constipation and loose stools, a pale or dusky tongue with distended sublingual veins, and a wiry-weak pulse.
- Kidney Qi Deficiency: This Pattern of Disharmony manifests as anxiety, preoccupation, feelings of fear and dread, and may be accompanied by lower back and knee weakness, lack of sexual responsiveness, a pale tongue, and a weak pulse
Acupuncture seeks to restore any imbalance. By inserting needles into the fine points of energy, the body’s own healing process is stimulated to restore its natural balance. Specific acupuncture points are chosen to treat each condition.
If you would like to know more about how acupuncture can help you, please get in touch. My contact details are below.