Treating Emotional Problems with Acupuncture
Do you believe that emotions occur as symptoms separate from your physical body? Have you ever gotten “choked up” during a sad movie? Have you ever gotten so mad that your temples throbbed? Hmmm. So, one could guess that emotions can cause a physical response. This is a well-documented scientific fact.
In Chinese Medicine, the inverse is also true. Systems that aren’t functioning at peak efficiency can have an output that is less or more than optimal. And this includes not only physical output, but also mental and emotional output. That’s right. A system that isn’t functioning well can create emotional states that are signs and symptoms; just like a headache, a fast heart rate, or a stomach ache.
When is an emotion is just an emotion? Acupuncture is the medicine of restoring proper function. So how do we know when emotions are a sign of improper function? Your acupuncturist has a series of questions and diagnostics they use to determine the difference. One question we might ask would be whether or not the symptom interferes with your quality of life and your normal, daily routine. We might also ask if the emotional symptom is purely a response to something situational, or if it seems to be triggered by just about anything.
Sometimes Western medicine separates treatment for mental and emotional health from the physical. Some patients feel a stigma or shame attached to seeking treatment. Sometimes, medications prescribed for these treatments come with a multitude of side effects. Acupuncture treatments do not carry these side effects. There is no stigma. Treatment is no more or no less important than treating your headache or your lower back issue.
Some would suggest evidence is only anecdotal. Others would say that treatments other than pharmaceutical approaches are “soft” science. So, let’s view a sampling of documented studies:
According to Psychology Today-
Sham-controlled studies suggest that conventional needle acupuncture, electroacupuncture, and computer-controlled electroacupuncture (CCEA) have consistent beneficial effects on depressed mood.
According to the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine:
A study conducted at the University of Arizona examined the responses of 34 depressed women to acupuncture, generalized acupuncture that didn’t use specific points, and no treatment at all. Of the women who received acupuncture specifically for depression, 43 percent experienced a reduction in their symptoms, compared with 22 percent who received general acupuncture and 14 percent who received no treatment. After eight weeks, over half of the women who received specific acupuncture were no longer depressed.
According to a June 2013 Abstract from the Journal of Medical Acupuncture:
With respect to six reviewed studies, there is high-level evidence to support the use of acupuncture for treating major depressive disorder in pregnancy.
Just remember, we are pretty complex beings. One person’s definition of happy or sad will likely not equal another person’s definition. And despite all the trouble this can cause when tabulating results from a scientific study, there is still a volume of evidence to show that it does, indeed, work!
If you still doubt this, just take a quick polling of your friends or family. Ask what they do to relax, center, or de-stress. I’m sure some will tell you that TV helps them unwind. Maybe another practices yoga. A third might take a long walk, journal, paint, or lift weights. Here’s the part I find extremely interesting; Acupuncture works on any person whose systems are not functioning as well as they are designed to work. And since Acupuncture works by driving up or balancing function, it can also balance the mental and emotional output of our bodies.
The focus is not to eliminate sadness, anger or frustration. That’s impossible. Those things can and will happen. What acupuncture can do for you is to bring them into a range of normal for YOU! Acupuncture can balance the emotions so that you have a better quality of life. Remember, we’re not just bodies with physical symptoms. We are mental, physical and emotional humans. And a symptom in any of those areas is like a check engine light to let you know when something is wrong or when you need maintenance work.