We are facing a Global Mental Emotional Distress Epidemic
Mental health concerns are relevant across the socioeconomic and generational spectrum and across the globe. It is estimated that more than one in ten people worldwide live with a mental health disorder, that is close to 800 million people, a staggering number if we consider the impact of each of those people in their families and communities. According to WHO, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) kill 41 million people each year, equivalent to 71% of all deaths globally. In the US 6 in 10 Americans live with chronic disease. The prevalence of people living with chronic pain worldwide, varies between 11% and 40%. People struggling with chronic disease and chronic pain, often experience mental-emotional distress.
The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic
Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, which has had a significant impact on mental health, in the US alone an estimated 50% of all Americans were diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their lifetime. Nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness (51.5 million in 2019), that is over 20% of all adults. The numbers are greater in women when compared to man and higher among 18-25 years old when compared to other age groups. These numbers do not account for people who experience significant emotional distress but do not fit the criteria for an actual mental health disorder. Large disease outbreaks, such as the Covid 19 pandemic, have been associated with mental health problems, with new or worsening symptoms of depression, anxiety, and insomnia. In fact, we considerably elevated adverse mental health conditions associated with COVID-19, have been documented in the literature (Czeisler, et al, 2020). Emerging evidence, indicates that the disease itself may leave a significant post-acute neuropsychiatric sequalae (Nalbandian, L et al, 2021), in the so called long-haulers.
Emerging Evidence: Why Acupuncture and East Asian Medicine?
The evidence indicates that acupuncture is not only often used for psychological distress (MacPherson, 2006) but that that it is helpful in reducing stress related symptom and stress-induced behavior, as well as robustly modulating neuroendocrine functions (specially the HPA Axis), enhancing the release of serotonin (5HT), and targeting brain regions involved in emotional processing (Zhang, Z.-J., 2015). Acupuncture has also shown significant potential as an antidepressant treatment ( Smith et all, 2018), as an augmentation to antidepressants, as an effective treatment during pregnancy, and in primary care, it has been found to be comparable to counseling in managing depression (McPherson, 2013). Furthermore, preliminary evidence indicates that acupuncture is effective in anxiety management and PTSD. A recent review of CHM indicates that Chinese herbs further enhance monoamine transmission systems, downregulate the HPA and confer neuroprotection, anti-inflammation, immunity, anti-oxidant and energy metabolism regulation, all critical in prevention of severe mental illness (Wang, 2017).
How can we help?
Patients seeking our services for any condition bring into our clinics their whole self. They are increasingly likely to be experiencing anywhere from uncomplicated emotional distress to a potentially life-threatening mental-emotional crisis, in conjunction with severe acute and chronic pain, or difficult to manage chronic illness.