Menstrual cycle and mental health
Despite recent studies that have found a correlation between mental health and the female menstrual cycle, conventional medicine still overlooks this connection when addressing mental health related issues. Women often suffer the rollercoaster ride of their menstrual cycle in silence. When help is sought, important psychiatric treatment and/or medication is often prescribed, but the root cause of the condition, as identified by Chinese medicine, is often overlooked. A scenario we often deal with in the clinic involves women describing mental health issues, such as anxiety or depressive moods, which directly correlate with their cycle. Often such mood fluctuations can be successfully treated by establishing internal balance using Chinese medicine treatments.
A Chinese medicine perspective
Female hormonal phases and their connection to mental health is an integral part of Chinese medicine gynaecology. Qi represents our constitutional health; it is an internal energy, which nourishes all structures and functions in our body and keeps us strong both physically and mentally. Our modern busy lifestyles often lead to what Chinese medicine refers to as ‘Qi depletion’. This occurs when Qi depletes and internal imbalances are present, and can lead to emotional and physical health being compromised. The female menstrual cycle is an intricate and finely tuned process that relies on several hormones being either stimulated or suppressed at different times. For this to run smoothly, it is crucial there is an abundance of Qi to engender the process.
If Qi becomes depleted, the body becomes stressed as the menstruation cycle proceeds through its different stages. This may pronounce typical menstrual symptoms, such as lower abdominal or back pain, digestive disturbances and migraines. In addition to these, due to the tension or stress that has arisen because of the Qi depletion, emotional or mental health issues are common, particularly during the premenstrual or ovulation phases. If life places increasing demands on your Qi, it can’t help but become more depleted and further exacerbate the symptoms.
How can Chinese medicine help?
Mental health issues are too often debilitating and detrimentally affect our enjoyment of life. It is important to recognise that sometimes help is necessary through forms of psychotherapy or medication. Chinese medicine and acupuncture may help by assisting with the symptoms of stress and tension.
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