Anxiety is a normal human emotion and most people will experience it to some degree as a normal response to stress. Anxiety becomes pathological when it repeatedly interferes with daily life, is irrational, or excessively prolonged or out of proportion with the cause. In TCM, anxiety is the emotion most frequently associated with disorders of the Heart and instability of the shen (spirit). The shen is easily agitated by Heat and easily destabilized if Heart qi, yin, or Blood are weak.
Possible Presenting Symptoms
• Anxiety or panic attacks with palpations, easily brought on by a fright, fearfulness, inappropriate worry, timidity or phobias
• Insomnia, waking to anxiety or panic, or sleep with nightmares
• Restlessness, irritability, forgetfulness
• Sensation of heat in the palms or soles
• Night sweats
• Dry mouth and throat
• Dizziness, light headed
• Fatigue and weakness
For obvious reasons the client will be treated with special care and gentleness. Many will be phobic and have a major fear of acupuncture, and is therefore of the utmost importance to provide reassurance and to engage in a program of treatment. Acupuncture is especially good for calming the shen and the repeated application of needles on a weekly or twice-weekly basis ensures momentum of the treatment.
It is important to remember that other drugs may be responsible for anxiety, and full disclosure of medications and other potential aggravating substances is important. Also, excessive use of caffeine (in coffee, chocolate, and energy drinks) is a reasonable common cause of anxiety and easy to overlook.
Things you can do
• A strict and regular bedtime routine will be helpful.
• An active pursuit of relaxation is encouraged. This means a gentle and positive relaxation routine should be incorporated into your day (just chillin’ doesn’t count!). Activities like tai qi, yoga, walking, and swimming all provide a positive way to calm the mind and gradually build qi.
• As in all anxiety patterns, avoidance of disturbing images from tv or movies is important.
• In women who lose blood through heavy periods, Blood replenishing and iron rich foods should be taken after each period.