Anxiety is a normal emotion that is experienced as a reaction to stress. It forces the mind and body to deal with the intense situation at hand and then usually subsides. However, when anxiety is excessive, it becomes disabling and a detriment to every-day life.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders affect about 40 million, or 18%, of American adults age 18 and older. Although each anxiety disorder has different symptoms, all focus around excessive, irrational fear and dread. Western medicine categorizes anxiety disorders into the following:

  • Panic disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Phobias
  • Generalized anxiety disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorders
  • In Chinese medicine, anxiety is thought to be precipitated by overstimulation of the seven emotions (joy, anger, sorrow, worry fright, fear, anxiety) coupled with an imbalance of qi, or life force, in the body. As with every condition, Chinese medicine views each person as an individual to determine the appropriate treatment plan for him or her. Most commonly, people who suffer with anxiety benefit from treatments that regulate the qi of the heart, liver, and spleen. For example, anger can cause the qi of the liver to become stagnate. As a result of this congestion of qi, heat may build in the body and agitate the heart causing palpitations (a racing heart). This is just one of many examples of a pattern of anxiety and how using acupuncture and herbs can help regulate the qi, balance excess and deficiency and thus address symptoms of anxiety. When the body is in balance so is the mind and a state of health prevails.

    Chinese medicine aims to address the root of the anxiety as well as the branch, or symptoms experienced. It also works well in conjunction with other Western medical treatments. Sometimes it provides relief to unwanted side effects of various medications and helps create a better quality of life or can help you wean off medication if that is the desired goal.