Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) accounts for 8% of primary-care visits in the United States and has a lifetime prevalence of 18%. At present, 13% of the elderly population and 10% of younger adults are being treated with antidepressant medications. Lifetime prevalence for major depressive disorder is 16.5%. Other common conditions include: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with a lifetime prevalence of 6.8%; panic disorder, with a lifetime prevalence of 4.7%; bipolar disorder, with a lifetime prevalence of 3.9%; and obsessive–compulsive disorder, with a lifetime prevalence of 1.6%.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) represents complete medical practice originating from ancient China through thousand years of clinical experience. TCM has primarily independent as foundation medical health care system in China and Southeast Asian countries, and integrative medical approach, providing first choice medical therapies. TCM, and acupuncture, has wide range of clinically proved therapeutic applications and approaches to treating psychiatric disorders.

TCM searches for holism between all living things in nature. Speaking of humans, TCM considers that body, mind, and spirit are interactive and interdependent. Everything is affected by each other, and in particular the spirit substitutes the existence of body and mind. It is rather exceptional perception to view psychiatric or emotional disorders through this lens of holism rather than using a more-reductionist approach of modern medical systems.

By TCM point of view, spirit is connected with God, the Universe or with Nature, if you wish. Having such connectivity, the spirit is the source of wisdom and, ultimately, health. According to modern TCM theory, the human spirit is an energetic opening of the autonomic nervous system. It can be influenced negatively by illness, but alternatively maturation and cultivation of spirit, can lead to healing. If any of the six senses got negatively affected (sixth is intuition), spiritual cultivation may be achieved by number of activities, such as arts, meditation, yoga, etc. It means that any kind of spiritual illnesses and physical manifestations alternatively can be treated only by cultivating spirit. Treating a person with emotional disorders using TCM firstly we have to relieve physical suffering. Secondly, through the process of cultivation, spiritual energy is nourished and purified, and finally, negative energy is transformed into positive energy, thus promoting an energetic balance. Result of our action is harmonization of mind, body, and spirit. In addition to Chinese herbal medicine we use acupuncture, qigong, yoga, tai ji quan, tuina, as TCM medical disciplines for addressing the spiritual components of emotional disorders.

Main function of TCM in the global arena is for the betterment of mankind. According to TCM theory, the human body consists of five Zang and six Fu organs, which are characterized by the five elements (五行) namely Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth, in the realm of the “Five Element” theory. The Zang-Fu organs are functionally interlinked with each other by generating and restricting mode of action, resulting in an optimally functioning body by maintaining a holistic Yin-Yang balance. Disease will develop when this balance is distorted, as in the cases of over-restricting and counter-restricting. Furthermore, the Zang-Fu (i.e. all visceral organs) interplay responds to environmental conditions, and these conditions—referred to as “external evils”, can distort the Yin-Yang balance and result in disease.

TCM theoretical and clinical practice adopts a holistic approach in making diagnosis of diseases, with the categorization of symptoms into various patterns of Zang-fu (internal organs) disorders. In TCM perspective, various emotions, or Qing Zhi (青志), do influence an individual’s physiological functions. In TCM theory, there are seven Qing—five of which are collectively called Zhi. The five Zhi, namely, joy, anger, grief, anxiety and fright, are characterized by five elements, namely, Fire, Wood, Metal, Earth and Water, respectively. As Zang-fu organs are linked to these five elements, the over-expression of each Zhi can affect the function of its respective Zang-fu organs. In light of the Five Element theory, all Zhi are related by generating, restricting, over-restricting and reverse-restricting one another. Thus, balancing the expression of the five Zhi is thought to be crucial in maintaining psychological and physical health. As TCM and Western medicine represent two distinct medical approaches with different origins, both diagnostic strategies and interpretations of symptoms of diseases in TCM are quite different from those of Western medicine.

Stress can be defined as a short-term psychological pressure when only limited resources are available to finish a task, whereas anxiety can be defined as a long-term worry about something uncertain in the future. Yet, a prolonged state of stress can also lead to anxiety. In TCM, psychiatric and psychological disorders often relate to energetic disharmonies involving the so-called Five Spirits wu shen (五神). Emotions are described by these spirits.

These spirits are respectively: the Hun, the Po, the Zhi, the Yi and the Shen. The Hun (魂) is stored by the Liver. Hun is called noncorporeal or non-materialistic because it is not dependent upon physical being for existence and continues after death. This spirit is responsible for love to kindness, awareness of suffering, empathy, compassion, and tolerance; and serves as a reservoir for ideas that bring meaning into life. It is said the liver stores blood, and the blood houses the ethereal soul. Disharmonies that affect the Hun may lead to anger, frustration, resentment, unkindness, and signs such as sleep walking and sleep talking. The Po (魄) is corporal - animal soul. It is a nonphysical aspect of the human being. exists only during physical life. Associated with the Lungs, the Po animates the being, is responsible for sensation and for emotional and physical responses to circumstances; it promotes justice and fairness. Disharmonies of the Po may lead to complicated grief, sadness, a blunted affect, a tendency to overreact, or unjust/immoral behavior.

The corporeal soul is believed to be closely related to essence, which in the traditional view, is the foundation of human life. The Zhi (志) is the will or determination of mind and emotions. Zhi is the spiritual aspect that resides in the Kidneys. The Zhi means memory wherein in individuals finds his orientation in time and it provides the motivation for self-determination. The Zhi leads one down the path to an unknowable fate. Disharmony may cause illogical fears or, the opposite, reckless behaviors, The Yi (意) is term which closely describe the intellect. It is the platform for conscious reasoning. The Yi enables creative vision and proper courses of action. The Yi is associated with the Spleen, and disharmonies may lead to worry and overthinking. Shen (神) or spirit-mind, allows the inner being to connect with the outer world, and the outer world to connect with the inner being. It is also the mind, where thoughts and feelings are experienced. The Chinese concept of spirit is what normally makes us conscious and alert during the day, what becomes inactive during sleep. The Shen is stored by the heart, and has to return to the abode of the heart during sleep, it might be present in conditions of heart palpitation, susceptibility to fright, heart vexation, and insomnia.

TCM treatments are intended to restore relative balance. Balance is accomplished by influencing the vital energy, known by ancient Chinese as Qi (气). By Chinese natural philosophy, and TCM basic theory, Qi flows through channels in the body and in the spaces between muscles and the skin. Qi has many functions including warming, moistening, and nourishing; promoting normal function of the organs; providing energy for different processes; regulating the body; protecting the body; and ensuring that organs remain in their proper positions. A very important role of Qi is in maintaining balance. It is a regulatory homeostatic mechanism by which the body can heal itself and establish a state of wellness. If Qi encounters a Yin–Yang imbalance, Qi corrects the situation by transforming one to the other, thus restoring balance and harmony. If, however, a blockage exists that impedes the flow of Qi, a factor is present that is interfering with the Qi, or if there is a Deficiency of Qi, this healing transformation does not take place. There are various experience clinically proved TCM techniques for opening blocked channels; for expelling pathogenic factors that are interfering with normal processes; and for boosting Qi in cases of Deficiency.

In TCM diagnostics, various patterns of disharmony may correspond to the same Western diagnoses. Vice verse, in modern medicine, diagnostics may apply to the same TCM pattern of disharmony. The treatment principle in modern medicine is based upon diagnosis, whereas, the treatment principle in TCM is based upon recognition of the pattern of disharmonies. Best option is to simultaneously combine the best of both modalities, in order to provide the most effective treatment.

Studies have shown that General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) can be characterized by an asymmetrical expression of the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis. Based on this observation, it can be deduced that the influence of anxiety is likely mediated by both nervous and endocrine factors. TCM diagnostics of Anxiety and depression disorders includes six patterns of pathological disharmonies. Ultimately, TCM treatment options related to Anxiety and Depression represents following pathological syndromes and its TCM treatment formula.

  1. Heart qi deficiency - miao xiang san 妙香散 (Marvellously fragrant powder).
  2. Heart and kidney уin deficiency - tian wang bu xin dan 天王补心丹.
  3. Heart qi and yin deficiency - zhi gan cao tang 天王补心丹 炙甘草汤 (Baked licorice cоmbinаtiоn).
  4. Heart blood and spleen qi deficiency - gui pi tang 归脾汤 (Ginseng and longan combination).
  5. Heart and gall bladder qi deficiency - ding zhi wan 定志丸 (Modified settle the emotions pills).
  6. Sudden shock - gui zhi jia long gu mu li tang - 桂枝加龙骨牡蛎汤 (Cinnamon and dragon bone combination).