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Stress, Depression in the time of COVID-19 by Gwenn Canlas

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the enhanced community quarantine, people have been forced to stay home and left to struggle with the stress of unemployment, not to mention the fear of contracting the deadly virus. Anxiety can set in and progress to depression.

As an acupuncturist, I stay on top of recent studies to ensure that I can provide my patients with the most up-to-date information regarding non-prescription treatment options. More and more studies show strong evidence for the use of acupuncture to treat and manage depression and anxiety disorders.

Let energy flow

First, let’s define acupuncture. Acupuncture is an integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It’s a procedure that involves inserting very thin needles to the skin at strategic points in the body to alleviate pain and to treat physical, mental and emotional conditions. Acupuncture can also be used for overall wellness like stress management.

The body has energy or “qi” in traditional Chinese medicine. The energy flows through highways called meridians. Acupuncture is theorized to work by getting rid of the “roadblocks” along the energy highway or meridians. When the meridians are clear (no roadblocks), the qi flows freely and thus, balance is achieved.

Damaging effect of emotions

Each meridian corresponds to an organ in the body and each organ has certain associations with body parts, time and emotions. In acupuncture there are sayings about the damaging effects of emotions.
• Too much anger injures the Liver
• Too much fear injures the Kidneys
• Too much sadness injures the Lungs
• Too much worry injures the Spleen
• Too much emotion injures the Heart

For example, the emotion of the Lungs is sadness. When the qi is blocked, it can cause Lung qi stagnation, which can result in sadness. It goes both ways, though—when you’re sad a lot, you can block the flow of qi in your Lungs. The Lungs also correspond to the skin; reason why sometimes skin rashes appear when there is Lung stagnation. The mind, emotions, body, and behaviors are intimately interconnected.

Treatment protocol

Acupuncture acts like physical therapy for the nervous system. It helps the nervous system adapt and re-educate itself to operate in a more optimal way. Western medicine has proven that acupuncture releases endorphins and activates natural painkillers. It affects other biological functions as well. Acupuncture improves functions by correcting blockages or imbalances in the organs.

With sufficient number of treatments and points per session, patients whose anxiety-induced rashes may disappear in just two treatments. Acupuncture treatments can significantly reduce anxiety and stress as well as alleviate depression. It’s important to note that most of these conditions require an initial treatment protocol of eight or more sessions. Once a significant improvement is reached, you can then move to a maintenance schedule.

Counseling recommended

Although acupuncture works well in treating stress and depression, one must note that it works well as an adjunct therapy to psychological counseling. For this, the public may also call the National Center for Mental Health hotlines which are open 24 hours daily: +63 917 899-USAP (8727) / +632 879898727.

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