mental illness, mood disorders, and traditional Oriental psychiatry and psychology

Chinese Medicine and Mood Disorders

Various forms of disorders which are diagnosed in the West as mental illness or psychological disorders have been recognized by physicians of ancient traditions such as Chinese medicine, Sufi medicine, African medicine, and Tibetan medicine. Chinese medicine tends to classify these as disorders of the "spirit essence", and applies a variety of balancing treatments to address the mechanisms of these disorders.

Although in the West, psychiatry and neurology have been historically divided, modern trends are to put these disciplines back together where they belong. One result of our antiquated medical education system is to perpetuate these types of illogical divisions among physicians. And, because there are strong economic and political forces maintaining this system, it is unlikely that any substantial change will be made, and patients will continue to suffer as a result of the narrow training of their physicians. The ancient Chinese physicians have never had to contend with this artificial distinction between body and mind, which, like many of the arbitrary divisions between specialists in the West, is not based on any scientific or clinical foundation. Chinese doctors recognized that every imbalance will eventually affect both the emotional state and the body's function.

Patients are distressed and frustrated that they have to collect a stable of physicians to address the reality of multisystem disease. Most disorders of this modern era are not simple, and are not easily cured with a single intervention. Symptoms vary and can cross the divisions that now characterize our specialty based system. The result is fragmented and third rate care.

For example, a patient who was depressed after heart surgery (a very common occurrence), finds that their surgeon is not interested or capable of treating this, and they are sent off to a psychiatrist. The drugs which the psychiatrist uses may affect the heart rhythym, so the patient is sent to a cardiologist, who places the patient on a drug which causes a deterioration in kidney function. You guessed it... they are sent off to the nephrologist to have this evaluated. It is common for me to see patients who are juggling drugs from several doctors, some of which interact and are causing new problems for the patient.

One of the most gratifying results of studying Chinese medicine is the ability to analyze the mechanisms of disease and understand how to address symptoms and signs which are ignored by specialists who focus narrowly on only a few aspects of the patient's complaint. Most patients are delighted to understand that these symptoms are truly interrelated in Chinese medicine and all must be treated together for the best results.

Psychological problems are commonly treated with drugs which have severe side effects on the body. These side effects are often dose related, so appropriate Oriental techniques can allow a reduction of dose with resulting reduction of these side effects. Many diseases affect both the body and mind, and so applying the inherently holistic treatments of Oriental medicine may eliminate the need for multiple specialists and address multiple organ system symptoms.

Problems classified by modern physicians as mental illness are usually complex and chronic, so complete remissions using either modern or ancient techniques are rare. Anxiety disorders, depression, adhd, learning disorders, seizure disorders, panic disorders, mood and spiritual problems require a long term commitment and a close relationship between physician and patient for a satisfactory outcome. When patients are forced to change physicians every few years because their doctors are no longer in the same "network", the benefits of this relationship are sacrificed and suffering and expense are ultimately greater.

Dr. L.B. Grotte, M.D., was the first physician in Ohio to be board certified in both acupuncture and Chinese herbology. He has studied Oriental medicine since 1972 and has practiced Oriental medicine in Cleveland for more than 27 years. Our small practice specializes in creating individualized treatment plans combining Western and Oriental methods. Call us at 440-461-7488 to make an appointment or visit our website for more information.

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