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Neurasthenia, Tension, and Anxiety Disorders: Acupuncture Treatment

Neurasthenia, tension, and anxiety disorders, including phobias, can also manifest as neurotic disorders like hysteria (hysterical neurosis) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Neurasthenia is the most common among these, characterized by symptoms like insomnia, restlessness, anxiety, tension, fatigue, loss of appetite, irritability, and memory decline. Chronic anxiety can evolve into phobia; emotional tension or mental disturbance transforming into physical symptoms is termed hysteria. Additionally, anxiety disorders often coexist with depression, but both are treatable with acupuncture, using similar methods.

Acupuncture points are mainly chosen from the peripheral points of the limbs and central reflex areas of the head, focusing on tender spots. The most common practice in treating psychiatric neuroses with acupuncture involves gentle stimulation, as patients often have heightened bodily sensitivity and do not require or tolerate strong stimulation. Mild acupuncture stimulation has shown good results in treating neurasthenia, anxiety, tension, and some mental illnesses.

Patients with neurotic disorders often exhibit tender points mainly in the peripheral limbs and central reflex areas of the head. For example, neurasthenia patients frequently experience significant tenderness in the head and along the midline of the back. Sensitive areas may extend to points on the spine like Shendao, Zhiyang, and Jinsuo. The second line of points on the back, such as Xinshu, Geshu, and Ganshu, can also be highly sensitive. In severe cases, the most tender and hardened points might be found in the upper abdomen, between the breasts, or in the pectoral muscles. Therefore, treatment of neurotic disorders requires careful palpation and comparison to choose the most sensitive tender points for stimulation, typically not exceeding 9-11 points per session.

Since many patients with neurotic disorders suffer from sleep disturbances and insomnia, regulating sleep is crucial for symptom improvement.

Combining acupuncture with psychotherapy can be beneficial. Encouraging patients, especially those who are usually gloomy and introverted, to laugh and be cheerful can aid in their recovery.

Numerous clinical reports worldwide attest to the apparent relaxing and calming effects of acupuncture. Most patients with neurotic disorders experience tranquility and often fall asleep during acupuncture sessions. Initially tense patients may find it difficult to relax, but they generally become more receptive to relaxation or sleep after several treatments.

The relaxing and calming effects of acupuncture are thought to be due to increased release of serotonin (5-HT) in the brain. Studies have linked brain 5-HT to antidepressant and analgesic effects; stimulation of points like Zusanli (ST36) and Fengchi (GB20) can increase cerebral blood flow, indirectly enhancing 5-HT release.


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