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Hello, I have a 16 year old daughter who has suffered from chest pain since she was 4-5 yrs old. She has had every hospital check imaginable with no answer as to how to help her. Over the last 2 yrs she has suffered with anxiety and depression with s

We are very sorry to hear of your daughter's problems; that is a very long time to be carrying the burden of an undiagnosed complaint in one so young.

The question of whether pain or anxiety came first is very difficult to settle. In most cases there is a very unpleasant circularity about these kinds of problems, and both conventional and Chinese medicine look for ways to break the cycle. As far as treatment of both is concerned, there is a pretty good amount of evidence suggesting that acupuncture treatment can be helpful. As we wrote recently in response to a question about depression and anxietyThere is some increasingly good evidence for the use of acupuncture in the treatment of depression, as out factsheet showshttp://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/depression.html

as does a heavily publicised research trial by BAcC member Hugh Macpherson and colleagues published very recentlyhttp://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1001518


Where the depression is linked to a continuing health problem, however, the situation becomes a little more complex. We find that when someone has a chronic condition it can become a great deal more difficult to deal with the depression that this causes and the underlying depression to which this has added.The great strength of Chinese medicine, however, is not that it treats this or that condition, but that it treats the person. This is why twenty people with headaches may be treated twenty different ways. Clearly some points will have a direct effect, but treatment is not the equivalent of an aspirin, and the practitioner will be at pains to discover why this symptom appears in you and not in someone experiencing similar external stresses. The best treatment always combines treating the symptoms within the context of their overall pattern, and the pattern is the primary factor. Indeed, in ancient times some of the older systems used to treat the people without necessarily taking any notice of individual symptoms, in the simple but effective belief that a system in balance took care of its own problems.The best advice we can offer is that you visit a BAcC member local to you, and see if they are prepared to give up a little time without charge to discuss whether your specific presentation. Anxiety and depression are rather broad labels which cover a huge range of possibilities, and sometimes we have to say to patients that what they are dealing with requires more of a talking therapy approach than we can offer. Given that it is rare for mental and emotional issues to arise without accompanying physical changes, even where these do now generate symptoms, a practitioner of Chinese medicine may well be able to see overall patterns which give them confidence that they may be able to help.The issue of chronic pain is also one on which a great deal has been written, but most practitioners would be trying to get as much information as possible about her life at the time when the chest pains started. Chinese medicine has some very broad brush principles about the flow of energy in the body which underpin an understanding of pain which arises from blockage or poor flow. It would be interesting to find out whether something had impaired the overall flow We think that this still represents very good advice, and we are sure that you will be able to find someone locally who will sit down with your daughter and see whether they think they can  help her. As follows from above, Chinese medicine is an inherently generalist practice, and all of our members are equally well qualified to provide the same level of exemplary care. Using our postcode search facility on the home page will identify your nearest BAcC members.The only caveat we have is the issue of self-harming, and the extent to which it is happening. It can sometimes be helpful to have had experience of working with people who have self-harmed, and it may be worth asking local practitioners if they know of someone locally who has developed a reputation for addressing complex mental and emotional issues. Most practitioner networks are a very efficient grapevine for directing prospective patients to the best practitioner for them. We hope that you manage to find someone who can help your daughter and lift the burden your family is carrying.

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