Luna Acupuncture Clinic

Emotional Support

imageAcupuncture Emotional Support
Acupuncture is best known for pain management treatment.  Usually, when we speak of pain management or pain relief, its physical pain symptoms, however, acupuncture is incredibly successful in dealing with internal medicine issues as well as emotional imbalances.  

Mind and Body Intertwined
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), consciousness resides throughout the body, holistically integrated. Therefore, emotional responses are not just felt in the mind, but are present throughout the body. The storing of unprocessed emotions has a direct physiological effect on the body. Anytime a feeling comes up but is not able to be fully experienced and moved through, the body holds onto the emotion and this produces symptoms that cause more havoc on the body than simply emotional distress. Fortunately, the connection of emotions and their impact on the body has been observed throughout centuries and recorded with the empirical evidence of how to treat these conditions. In TCM, each of the major organs in the body are related to five elements that are also paired with an emotion. The pairings are as follows:

  • Water – fear – kidney – urinary bladder
  • Wood – anger – liver – gall bladder
  • Fire – joy/excitement – heart – small intestine
  • Earth – worry – spleen – stomach
  • Metal – grief – lung – large intestine

Four Major Categories of Emotional and Psychological Disorders

  • Stress, anger, irritability
  • Anxiety (PTSD, panic attacks)
  • Depression
  • Insomnia

Stress is something that all of us experience at least occasionally but for some of us stress can be felt quite consistently. This can come from financial worries, health concerns, employment dynamics, and interpersonal relationships. While we may try to show up fully for our lives, stress can prevent us from participating as fully as we may desire. It also changes the way we respond to situations, including decreased patience, increased irritability, and inappropriate bursts of anger. When untreated, stress can have a huge impact on the digestive system, the immune system, mood and emotions, sexuality, and energy storage and expenditure.  Acupuncture has been shown to lower the hormones and neurotransmitters associated with stress.  

Anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses worldwide and fortunately there is plenty of research showing how acupuncture helps. There is a wide spectrum of anxiety severity. Many people experience some form of anxiety occasionally as one end of the spectrum, such as social anxiety in certain settings.  Others, however, have symptoms so severe that their ability to react to a stressful situation is greatly impaired or altogether impossible.  Symptoms can range from an ominous feeling in the pit of the stomach to a feeling of suffocation. 

Anxiety can trigger the following responses:

Physical: Irregular heartbeat, upset stomach, feelings of heat rushing up, heaviness in the chest, and sweating.

Cognitive: Inability to focus, think clearly, or remember facts or faces.

Behavioral: Feeling “shut down”, unconnected, restless, phobias, and paranoia.

Emotional: Feeling a cascade of fear, fight or flight, or panic.

TCM examines the constellation of symptoms presented in an individual with anxiety and has many different diagnoses and treatment strategies appropriate for each individual case.

It is estimated that approximately one in five people will experience clinical depression at least once in their lifetime. It is natural to feel sad and down at times, especially after experiencing loss.  This type of depression can often be managed with gradual lifestyle adjustments and the passage of time. Clinical depression, however, refers to a long-lasting and intense emotional, physical and cognitive state that greatly affects day-to-day life.

Symptoms include:

  • Loss of positive associations and sense of achievement (lack of interest in normally pleasurable activities)
  • Negative thoughts (often worrying about the future)
  • Irritability, agitation and exhaustion
  • Changes in sleeping patterns (too much or too little)
  • Hopelessness (feeling trapped or even suicidal)

According to TCM Liver Qi Stagnation is usually the cause of depression.  Although the cause of depression can vary, oftentimes it has to do with qi becoming stagnant within the body. Instead of qi and blood flowing smoothly and harmoniously, as it should, it becomes stagnant and blocked.  This makes those who suffer from depression feel as if they are stuck or in a holding pattern.  There also other root causes, such as qi deficiency, wherein there is not enough energy to move qi throughout the body, or qi excess, wherein pent up emotions build to such an extreme that qi is unable to move smoothly.

The Chinese consider insomnia differently than we do in the West. Again, it’s manifestation in TCM is seen as a symptom of an underlying imbalance.  This imbalance may be due to liver qi stagnation, heart fire or kidney yin deficiency.  Each pattern will manifest slightly different patterns. For example, if someone is unable to fall asleep, but after falling asleep they remain asleep, this is treated differently from someone who can fall asleep but wakes frequently throughout the night.  Therefore, when patients get treated for insomnia, a sleep journal is most helpful.

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