Psychological Conditions

Treating PTSD with Acupuncture

by Nicole Murray, L.Ac.
At Beach Community Acupuncture, we treat the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on a regular basis. Acupuncture regulates the nervous system response and lowers stress. At BCA, our patients with PTSD report reduction in symptoms like: obsessive thinking, insomnia, panic attacks, and nightmares. To be most effective, we prescribe daily treatments for 10 days, then maintenance as needed.
About PTSD
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that some people may develop after living through or witnessing a dangerous event. When facing danger, it is natural to feel anxious and fearful-the nervous system “fight or flight” response is designed to help keep us safe. When these symptoms persist long after the danger has passed, PTSD is the likely diagnosis. In essence, the signals become damaged and the person experiences fear even when there is no danger.
We hear a lot about combat veterans with PTSD. Aside from the trauma experienced during war, people may develop PTSD after an accident, assault of any kind, natural disaster, or any terrifying event. The sudden death of a loved one or other strong emotional shock may also trigger PTSD.
The National Institute of Mental Health classifies the symptoms of PTSD in three categories: re-experiencing symptoms, avoidance symptoms, and hyperarousal symptoms. Symptoms are outlined below.
Re-experiencing symptoms
* Flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating
* Bad dreams
* Frightening thoughts.
* Re-experiencing symptoms can be triggered from within-according to the person’s thoughts or feelings. External reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing (think of a car backfiring after a person has heard gun shots).
Avoidance symptoms
* Staying away from places, events, or objects that [...]

Acupuncture for Anxiety

By Nicole Murray, L.Ac.

We treat anxiety every day at BCA.

The American Psychological Association (APA) defines anxiety as:  “An emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.”
People with anxiety disorders usually have “recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns.” (APA) They may avoid certain situations due to worry (e.g., someone who won’t get on a plane because they worry about plane crashes).
Physical symptoms may include insomnia, sweating, trembling, dizziness, excessive muscle tension, or a rapid heartbeat.
Risk factors for this cluster of disorders include:
* genetics,
* brain chemistry,
* personality, and
* life events.
The National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) recognizes the following as anxiety disorders:
* panic disorder;
* obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD);
* post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD);
* social phobia (or social anxiety disorder);
* specific phobias; and
* generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

In the US, anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric illnesses, affecting an estimated 40 million American adults. These disorders are highly treatable, but only about one-third of those suffering from an anxiety disorder receive treatment.
People with an anxiety disorder are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those who do not suffer from anxiety disorders.
People with an anxiety disorder are often diagnosed with at least one other disorder or disease. These include:
* Depression (50% of people with a depressive disorder also have an anxiety disorder);
* Longstanding chronic diseases, such as IBS, chronic pain, cardiovascular disease, ADHD, etc; and
* Other psychiatric illnesses.
Anxiety disorders cost the U.S. more than $42 billion a year, almost one-third of the country’s $148 billion total mental [...]

Acupuncture for Depression

by Nicole Murray, L.Ac.
All of us experience sadness sometimes, as part of the range of human emotions. We experience ‘the blues’, grief, heartache, and irritability. Depression, however, is a serious medical illness of the brain. This mood disorder “causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest” (Mayo Clinic). The National Institute of Health (NIH) reports that, as of 2005, “about 20.9 million American adults, or 9.5 percent of the population ages 18 and older, have mood disorders,” including depression. Major depressive disorder is “the leading cause of disability among Americans age 15 – 44,” according to the World Health Organization.
The disease is still not fully understood, but experts widely agree that there are multiple factors that may be involved, including: biological (MRIs have shown differences in the brains of people with depression); brain chemistry (malfunctions in neurotransmitter system); family history; and/or a history of trauma.
Symptoms of the disease are both emotional and physical, and significantly affect day-to-day life.
The National Institute of Mental Health lists the following signs and symptoms of the disease:
* Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings;
* Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism;
* Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness;
* Irritability, restlessness;
* Loss of interest in activities once pleasurable, including sex;
* Fatigue and decreased energy;
* Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions;
* Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping;
* Overeating, or appetite loss;
* Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts;
* Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment.

Courtesy of National Institute of Mental Health

Treatment
Conventional treatment involves both antidepressant medication and psychotherapy. These therapies are most effective when the patient uses them together. Interestingly, [...]

SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and Acupuncture

By Mary Vincent, L.Ac

It’s that time of year again, when we see an increase of people walking through the door seeking relief from symptoms related to depression. We certainly see a lot of people all year around for this as depression is, of course, not an uncommon ailment, however something about this particular time of year either brings it on or exacerbates it in many individuals. Whether it’s an ongoing, year-round problem, the change in seasons, or simply the looming inevitability of the upcoming holidays, acupuncture can help relieve many of the related symptoms of depression.

Seasonal Depression

There are many different types of depression that can affect people either temporarily or year-round. For many people, this time of year not only brings with it pumpkins, chillier weather, and holiday feasts, but also the unwelcome guest of depression. Seasonal depression, otherwise known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, typically begins with the onset of fall and persists throughout the winter months. It is thought that hormones produced in the brain shift during these seasons, related to the reduced availability of sunlight throughout these months. Many theories include the idea that less sunlight leads to less production of serotonin in the brain, a hormone responsible for producing a calming, soothing effect on human moods. Therefore in some people, this could create symptoms related to depression. In addition, as was mentioned above, those who experience depression year-round may also see a marked increase in the amount or severity of symptoms related to their particular condition during the fall and winter months. The typical symptoms of depression are as follows:

▪ Fatigue/decreased energy
▪ Difficulty sleeping/sleeping too much
▪ Overwhelming sadness
▪ Difficulty concentrating
▪ Increase/decrease in appetite
▪ Weight gain/weight loss

In [...]