Chinese Medicine and Mental Health

Today's world is stressful. We live in a hectic culture and face many conflicts and challenges in our daily lives. For some of us, it can be too much. Nearly 1 in 5 Americans suffer from some form of mental illness.  TCM practitioners don't see mental disorders as any one syndrome. Instead, TCM treats specific symptoms. The goal is to re-balance the body's inner functions.

Some issues are quickly treated, but severe/chronic illnesses require ongoing treatment. Typical treatments last for 15-30 minutes, and treatment is usually repeated once or twice weekly, based on a client's needs.  Treatment points relating to mental health are grouped at the head, forearms, and lower legs. Ear acupuncture is commonly used for traumatic conditions, extreme stress, and addiction.

Acupuncture is very effective in treating depression. Hugh McPherson of the University of York in the United Kingdom noted greater decreased rates of depression in subjects who received acupuncture than in those who received counseling or other conventional methods, including medication. The Cleveland Clinic Center for Integrative Medicine found that acupuncture can be used in place of antidepressants for mild to moderate depression. Acupuncture is extremely effective when paired with counseling or traditional methods, including medication.

For those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD,) it is recommended that treatment  get started before winter sets in. This bolsters you and helps you get through darker months. In addition to acupuncture, herbs, body work, lifestyle changes, and energetic exercises may also be used or recommended.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is  a state of sustained trauma suffered by people who've been through severely stressful events, such as soldiers. Roughly 5 million Americans suffer from PTSD. PTSD is what TCM terms a “Qi wild condition.” This means that a person's Qi is chaotic or inconsistent. It is treated by acupuncturists as a state of shock. The goal is to stabilize the energetic pulse.

Specific herbal formulas are available for shock and trauma and will vary based on each person's case. The initial herbal combo is used for 1 month and then other herbs may be used, based on individual need. Acupuncture is as effective as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and comparable to use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in effectiveness. When acupuncture is used in combination with CBT,  the overall effectiveness of treatments are given a boost. Acupuncture and moxibustion used together have been found to be better than SSRIs alone in treating PTSD.

In addition to acupuncture and companion treatments, lifestyle and dietary changes are also usually recommended.

Many people find long-term care helpful as a part of their journey of mental health. Regardless of what treatments you choose to pursue, it is recommended that you not drop conventional treatments, but add acupuncture to your regimen for better overall results.