In this week’s Gossip Girl episode (Season 4, Episode 21), cousin Charlie decides not to take her medication.  From the context, I gathered that the medicine was for a mental health condition, perhaps anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, anti-anxiety, or something to control a mild bi-polar disorder.

(Yes, guilty, I watch Gossip Girl.)

I certainly can’t blame Charlie for wanting to get off these drugs. Who wants to have their every thought, feeling, and reaction be controlled, manipulated, influenced, or directed by medications? I don’t think anyone does. And that’s exactly what psychotherapeutic drugs do: they manage your thoughts and emotions in such a way that at times you’re not sure where they came from or whether those thoughts are even your own.

However, the way she went about getting off her medication–suddenly, cold-turkey, without telling anyone or getting any counseling–was certainly not the right way. Although psychotherapy medications can be addictive or perpetuate the underlying condition, such that many people spend their whole life taking anti-depressants or anti-anxiety drugs, there is hope.  There are healthy ways to be able to stop taking these types of drugs.

One of the best ways is with acupuncture.  Acupuncture can be used to treat all types of mental health conditions including

  • mania,
  • depression,
  • bi-polar disorder,
  • anxiety,
  • stress,
  • chronic fatigue syndrome, and
  • insomnia.

For the most part, traditional Chinese medicine explains these conditions as resulting from an inbalance of Yin and Yang or Qi (primarily  Liver or Spleen Qi) stagnation or shortage.

As acupuncture can nourish and promote Yin, Yang, and Qi, can encourage flow, remove blockages, and reestablish balance, it can address the underlying physical condition leading to the psychotic condition. Choosing the correct points, using the right needling techniques, and applying moxibustion, in certain cases, ensure the effectiveness of the treatment.

However, just as with any course of treatment, acupuncture is not a 1-time solution.  It should be continued, depending on the patient, multiple times per week for months or even years.  Throughout this time, as the acupuncture does its work, the patient should cooperate with the TCM doctor and psychiatrist to reduce her medication level.  This is a gradual process that must be carefully monitored and managed.

For anyone, like Gossip Girl‘s Charlie, wanting to get off their mental health drugs, know that it is possible: find a TCM doctor who can do acupuncture related to your condition and have patience.  By supplementing with acupuncture, you will be able to reduce and eventually stop your medication sooner than your therapist would ever admit.

For more information on acupuncture for depression, read this post.

Photo credit: Flickr user sHzaam!