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How can TCM help with Mental Health Issues?

Mental health has been widely published in the media. Our young teens are turning to suicide as a solution, families in crisis leading to domestic violence and people lost in a system that is wired up to help but for some reason many people are slipping through the cracks.

Firstly, I don’t claim to be a psychologist, psycho therapist, counsellor or the like; today’s blog post is looking at mental health issues through the eyes of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The objective is to enhance your insight into the world of mental health and possibly assist you to understand the relevance a disharmonious body can have on our state of mind.

As human beings we have the ability to feel many emotions in various times of our life. These include sadness, depression, anxiety, isolation, fear, anger, happiness, joy and so on. Emotions are influenced by our experiences, conversations, beliefs, peers, upbringing, health and many more.

Often I see many of my patients struggling with emotions of depression, anxiety, overwhelm based on their current state of health, their desire to start a family, work commitments, or quite possibly unaware of the reason for their emotional distress. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), each emotion is highlighting a deficiency in a particular organ system. Liver = overwhelm/stress, irritability, anger, teary, depression, PMS Heart = anxiety and over joy Kidney = fear Lungs = sadness, grief Digestion = over thinking, worry

So what does this all mean? Well if we take it from a very general perspective, when we stress our liver is affected during this time of stress. The function of the liver is stagnated; leading it to liver Qi stagnation (the flow of energy is obstructed). As a result we may feel unmotivated, flat, depressed, stuck. These emotions further affect the liver’s function, making the liver generate more of these emotions. As you can see this continues to go round and round. As a TCM practitioner we are able to break that cycle and improve the health of the body to reduce the onset of these negative emotions.

Now to simply say it will be fixed with some herbs is a little ignorant. The way we feel on an emotional level is strongly impacted by our circumstances, the people around us and the perspective we hold.

Personally, I believe labelling ourselves as an ‘anxious person’ or a ‘stress head’ will only perpetuate these emotions. By telling ourselves we are human and we will experience all these emotions in our life, takes the label away and allows you to deal with these circumstances without hiding behind a label.

In my opinion, we need to sit in that emotion(s) we are feeling and ask ourselves WHY??? Why are we feeling like this? Where is it coming from? What can I do to address these concerns I have that are generating these emotions? Who can I reach out to for help? Who can I talk to? Who do I need to surround myself with that will lift me out of this? What changes can I make in my life to remove these concerns from me?

Teaching ourselves and our loved ones that feeling these emotions are essential to experience personal growth, to change the path we are on if the path is wrong for us, to see life from a different perspective if the way we have been perceiving life should be different in order to fulfil our reason why we are here.

Each and every person has a reason why they are here. Sometimes we get lost in someone else’s belief system of what or who we must be. When this isn’t inline with who we really are, we feel uneasy/disjointed/out of sorts. This is the feeling we must capture because this is the feeling that will create change in our life. Don’t suppress these feelings, welcome them. As they are here to teach you something that you may be missing.

When you can combine healing any dis-harmonies or deficiencies in the body with herbal medicine together with recognising the reasons behind the feelings of anxiety, depression etc, naturally wellness will occur.

Now sometimes the changes that need to happen can be difficult in themselves. It may be that your job or career needs to change, or relationship/friendships need to be re-assessed, or your health is challenging so finding a way to improve your health may take some time, or it could be as a result of loss in your life. It is important to understand resolution may not occur over night; however it is possible when taken as a step by step approach.

Here are some great books that may possibly help you: Dr Joe Dispenza “Breaking the Habits of Being Yourself” Byron Katie “Loving What Is” Susan Jeffers “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” Andrew Griffiths “The Me Myth” Brandon Bays “The Journey”