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raditional Chinese Medicine recognizes the mind and body interacting on a whole. This means that emotions have a physiological effect on the body, just as happiness makes you smile or sadness will bring tears. From the perspective of Chinese Medicine, the five major emotions are represented by the five elements:

  • Water (fear)

  • Wood (anger)

  • Fire (happiness)

  • Earth (worry)

  • Metal (grief)

Anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses worldwide. Many people experience anxiety from time to time, while others may suffer from it constantly. When a person experiences a highly stressful situation or threatening scenario, the mind can struggle to find ways of coping.

Although the symptoms can be as manageable as an ominous feeling in the pit of the stomach, some suffer much worse. Anxiety can trigger the following responses:

  • Physical, such as an irregular heartbeat

  • Cognitive, which can cause negative thoughts

  • Behavioral, which may include uncharacteristic aggression or restlessness

  • Emotional, such as fear

Depending on which of these symptoms are suffered, different anxiety disorders may be diagnosed. These include:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

  • Panic Disorder

  • Social Anxiety Disorder

  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

  • Obsessive- Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

There are a variety of causes of anxiety from the TCM perspective, and all have different treatments. A person’s personality, behavior or constitution can cause them to be more susceptible to anxiety.

Traditional Chinese Medicine relates anxiety to an imbalance of the Heart and Kidney. Fire represents the heart and joy according to the five elements. The diagnosis is that too much heat in the heart will cause an imbalance with the kidney (representing water and fear). This will result in the water element failing to contain the fire element, leading to fire rising to the mind, leading to anxiety. Acupuncture treatments will typically focus on re-balancing the heart, kidney, and spleen to quell anxiety.

In a comprehensive literature review appearing on an addition of CNS Neuroscience and Therapeutics, it was proved that acupuncture is comparable to cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which psychologists commonly use to treat anxiety (Errington-Evans 2011.)

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