Our bodies are made to deal with stress from both environmental as well as internal causes such as illness or trauma, but when the body is put under more stress than it can handle, it can have negative effects both physically and psychologically. While the body is meant to be able to deal with stress, long-term over-stimulation can lead to the problems associated with stress such as sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, digestive issues or other associated problems. The natural movement of qi in the body is to be smooth flowing. Stress causes the irregular movement of qi or energy in the body. This irregular qi flow can be the cause or the symptoms that are associated with stress. TCM believes them to be one in the same.
Any current event or circumstance that affects our ability to function normally in our day-to-day activities can be considered acute stress. Because these events are usually without warning, they can very effectively dis-regulate the flow of qi. The treatment for acute stress is to focus on the associated symptoms that affect day-to-day activities. The only treatment option is to regulate the qi which will address the symptoms but not the cause. Our role in dealing with acute stress is for support only. We strongly encourage people to seek mental health professionals for dealing with the root cause.
Chronic stress is the same as acute stress in its root cause. The difference between the two in TCM is that other symptoms may arise that you would not see when dealing with acute stress. TCM will still treat the symptoms that are brought on by the long-term stress, but just like acute stress, the root cause will still need to be addressed by mental health professionals.
In TCM, mental health and wellness is supported by many different factors. For simplicity we can organize these factors into two groups. The first group are the properties that make up a person’s constitution. These properties are yin/yang and qi/blood. The second group is the pathogenic factors that can arise from imbalances in the individual’s constitutional makeup. Pathogenic factors are created in an environment that is based around the movement of qi and blood. Again, this a very brief description of TCM theory to give some insight into how it looks at mental health. The challenge when treating mental health is largely based on the individual. A person’s constitution will be the guiding factor in the duration of the treatment from short term to long term. Everyone has their own pre-set factors that affect qi flow through the body that TCM can look at for possible treatment.