Stress related disorders a modern phenomenon?
Stress related disorders are one of the most common complaints we see as acupuncturists. It seems that these days, people are working much longer hours and leading more complicated lives. Often they are placing impossible demands on themselves and others. This in turn creates unnecessary stress that can have an impact on both a physical and emotional level. As a result they often present with a wide range of symptoms. For some, these symptoms are short term for others however, they become chronic and somewhat debilitating affecting their capacity to lead normal lives.
Stress and its impact on the body
Essentially stress and anxiety are natural human responses. In fact our bodies are innately designed with mechanisms to adapt to stressful situations. Indeed, in what is commonly known as the flight or fight response, the body’s sympathetic nervous system initiates a finely tuned sequence of hormonal changes that occur when the body is under threat or attack. Hence when we encounter stressors in our lives are bodies are programmed to deal with them. Once the stressor no longer remains the body switches back to its normal nervous system function known as the autonomic nervous system.
When we face persistent or prolonged periods of stress our bodies become locked in to flight or fight mode. When this happens, stress hormones such as cortisol and noradrenaline fail to switch off, leading to adverse reactions that permeate throughout the body. The impact of these changes are far reaching, affecting our digestive, reproductive, cardiovascular and hormonal systems as well as the brain. As a result, a wide range of stress related disorders/symptoms such as anxiety, depression, panic attacks, palpitations, teeth grinding, jaw clenching and insomnia (just to name a few) can develop.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for stress
At Innate Harmony we are passionate about helping our patients manage and reduce stress in the lives. Indeed, we empower them to make positive changes directly aimed at stress reduction and the improvement of their wellbeing. We believe that we all encounter stressful situations at some point or other, the challenge is however, how we manage it. Targeting the many symptoms of stress related conditions, we formulate a treatment plan which includes acupuncture, herbs and supplements, dietary advice and lifestyle counselling tailored to the individual.
Acupuncture research for stress related conditions
Recently there have been studies validating the potential positive effects of acupuncture for anxiety. For example a recent systematic review measuring the efficacy of acupuncture and electro-acupuncture for the treatment of anxiety, concluded that “there is good scientific evidence encouraging acupuncture therapy to treat anxiety disorders as it yields positive outcomes, with fewer side effects than many conventional treatments (1)”. These potential positive effects were also noted in a 2016 integrative review (2). Both studies called for further research to be conducted in this area. Regarding acupuncture for the treatment of depression, there is also evidence of the potential positive effects when used in conjunction with anti-depressant medications (3).
(1) Amorim, D., Amado, J., Brito, I., Fiuza, S. M., Clinical, N. A. T. I., 2018. (n.d.). Acupuncture and electroacupuncture for anxiety disorders: A systematic review of the clinical research. Elsevier. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctcp.2018.01.008
(2) Goyata SL, Avelino CC, Santos SV, Souza Junior DI, Gurgel MD, Terra FS. Effects from acupuncture in treating anxiety: integrative review. Rev Bras Enferm. 2016 Jun;69(3):602-9.
(3) Chan YY, Lo WY, Yang SN, Chen YH, Lin JG. The benefit of combined acupuncture and antidepressant medication for depression: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Affect Disord. 2015 May 1;176:106-17.