Mental health is sadly a very common ailment of our society today. A huge number of people experience poor mental health symptoms such as anxiety, sadness, grief and phobias. Some people may feel that it is a sign of weakness, or that they are 'losing their mind', which can feel very upsetting, frightening and isolating.
These feelings can often cause other physical problems such as increased heart rate, hot flushes, headaches, digestive issues, numbness, pins and needles, to name just a few, all of which create even more anxiety, and feed the cycle.
It is therefore very important that people seek help and talk about how they feel in order to avoid causing more harm to their physical and mental wellbeing. The conversation around mental health has gained huge momentum in recent years, and we are starting to see a genuine de-stigmatisation around the subject.
In life, we all know of someone who has had some experience of mental health. It affects all kinds of people from all walks of life. In my clinic, I have helped hundreds of clients who have suffered from mental health related illnesses. The philosophy of Chinese medicine acupuncture states that humans are one whole, and that the mind and body exist as one; they are two vital energies which are interrelated and must be treated as one.
My Perspectives On Mental Health And Mental Illness
There are various approaches to mental health and mental illness around the world. Most health professionals in the UK agree on a similar set of clinical diagnoses, and a set treatment, often consisting of a form of counselling and a prolonged course of medication, such as anti-depressants.
Chinese medicine acupuncture has for many years, shown to be very effective in targeting both the mental and physical symptoms of mental health issues. In my clinic, clients receive an individual support and treatment plan which aims to combat the emotional and physical imbalance, enhance the effect of any medication that the patient maybe using, and also target any unwanted side effects. We work together to provide a treatment plan that works for you.
How Acupuncture Can Help?
Acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules in the body. The resulting biochemical changes influence the body's homeostatic mechanisms, therefore promoting physical and emotional wellbeing.
Studies indicate that acupuncture can have a specific positive effect on depression by altering the brain's mood chemistry, increasing the production of serotonin (Sprott 1998) and endorphins (Wang 2010). Acupuncture may also help alleviate feelings of depression by acting through other neurochemical pathways, including those involving dopamine (Scott 1997), noradrenaline (Han 1986), cortisol (Han 2004) and neuropeptide Y (Pohl 2002).
The stimulation of certain acupuncture points has been shown to affect areas of the brain that are known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promoting relaxation and deactivating the 'analytical' brain which is responsible for anxiety and worry (Hui 2010). It also showed that stress-induced changes in behaviour and biochemistry may be reversed (Kim 2009).
Acupuncture can be safely combined with conventional medical treatments such as anti-depressants, helping to reduce their side effects and enhance their beneficial effects (Zhang 2007), while helping the body to recover from physical and emotional imbalance.
Acupuncture treatment can also help resolve physical ailments such as chronic pain (Zhao 2008), which may be a contributing cause of severe anxiety and depression.
In addition to offering acupuncture and related therapies, at my clinics I will often make suggestions as to dietary and other lifestyle changes that may be helpful in overcoming depression.
Finally, people struggling to cope with depression usually find that coming to see a supportive therapist on a regular basis is helpful in itself. Through our practice Toni may make recommendations for our clients to seek further help through their general practice and community support groups.
It is never is too late. Always be courageous and seek help.