The brain is a fascinating thing, and much research is being done to explore the relationship between emotions and brain behavior. Recently, a new study was able to illustrate significant changes in brain activation for people undergoing “laser acupuncture”: the use of lasers (imperceptible to touch) to stimulate some of the same pressure points activated by traditional needle acupuncture. The participants in this particular study were not depressed, but the researchers believe the study may lead to a possible complementary treatment for people who do have depression. The parts of the brain it activated have shown to be less active in people who are depressed, so at the very least, the study illustrates the efficacy of traditional acupuncture based on the connection between brain and pressure points alone.
This scientific approach to emotions rarely, if ever, shows the whole picture. After all, our emotions and mental patterns are rarely without reason. They are tied closely to our relationships with others and with ourselves; they are bound to our past experiences and future plans. But studies like this do offer scientific proof of how effective many non-medicinal therapies can be for dealing with psychological stress. Whether for children with ADHD or adults with depression, there is a portion of the medical community that turns to pharmaceuticals as a first recourse for helping people address their needs. But traditional arts such as acupuncture, yoga, meditation and tai chi have played a role in mental health and emotional lives of cultures world wide for hundreds of years.
These arts often help people establish psychological balance and emotional resilience, not unlike the way exercise is a preventive measure against heart disease. But they may not be enough. Many people benefit from pairing such practices with psychotherapy, counseling, or group talk therapy. In complement, these approaches are particularly helpful for depression, anxiety, grief, transition, and general life issues.
© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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