emotionsThree major causes of disease in TCM include: External (Six Climates); Internal (Seven Emotions); and, Five Miscellaneous (e.g., lifestyle choices). In this article we will briefly go through the internal seven emotions so as to give you an understanding of disease creation under this Eastern lens.

Internal Cause of Disease: Seven Emotions

Emotions play a big role in TCM. For example, lack of appropriate emotional response or inappropriate or excessive emotional response may lead to disease of the related organ. Weakness in any organ system may lead to emotional weakness or imbalance. Emotional factors can cause functional changes in one or more organs at the same time.

Below is brief discussion of the seven emotions:

1. Anger: Affects the liver, causes qi to rise up.  Includes: repressed anger, irritability, frustration, bitterness, resentment, rage, indignation, animosity and moodiness.  There can be liver qi stagnation, liver blood stagnation, liver yang rising and liver fire. Symptoms include: headache, tinnitus, dizziness, red face, thirst, bitter taste, hypogastric pain and distension, belching, sighing and irregular menstruation bleeding due to impairment of the blood.

2. Joy: Affects the heart. Joylessness or the inability to express joy is pathological and slows qi down. There can also be excessive excitement and manic behavior. Symptoms include: anxiety, palpitations, insomnia, dizziness, mania, dream disturbed sleep, mental confusion as well as abnormal laughing and crying.

3. Sadness: Affects the lungs. Has to do with separation or release . Consumes or dissolves qi. Excessive crying and grieving. Weakens both the heart blood and lung qi. Symptoms: breathlessness, tiredness, depression, crying and amenorrhea (blood deficiency).

4. Grief: Affects both the lung and heart. Involves extreme or chronic sadness. Consumes qi.

5. Worry or Pensiveness: Affects the spleen. Stagnates or knots the qi.  Involves excessive studying, thinking, worrying and mental work. Includes introspection, brooding, obsessing and other kinds of unexpressed mental energy (this does not equate with intelligence). Weakens spleen qi causing spleen qi sinking (prolapse) and spleen not holding (bleeding). Symptoms: tiredness, fatigue, loss of appetite, loose stools, damp accumulation, phlegm, epigastric distension, worse with irregular meals and eating too quickly.

6. Fear: Affects the kidneys. Phobias, fearful children, easily frightened.  Symptoms: children: kidney qi descends for bedwetting (enuresis); adults: fear, chronic anxiety, kidney yin deficiency with heart fire results in red complexion, night sweats, palpitations, dry mouth and dry throat.

7. Fright, Panic or Shock: Affects kidneys; more sudden than fear, also affects the heart;  qi becomes deranged or scattered.  Depletes heart and kidney qi leading to palpitations, shortness of breath, insomnia, dizziness, tinnitus, night sweats, dry mouth, coma and even yang collapse.