Can acupuncture reduce anxiety?

Anxiety and stress are related mental conditions, often confused by sufferers because the symptoms are so similar. Even medical practitioners confuse the terms (because it’s easier to talk about stress than anxiety). If you suffer from low energy levels, upset stomachs and IBS, headaches, chest pains, and a rapid heartbeat, you may be suffering from either stress or anxiety.

 

The main difference between stress and anxiety is the length of time that symptoms persist. Anxiety is a long-term condition, whereas the symptoms of stress may last from only few minutes to a few days before they dissipate. However, if you fail to recognise and deal with your stressors, you could find yourself suffering from anxiety. Anxiety is a long-term condition with symptoms that could progress to:

 

  • Excessive worrying

  • Sleep problems and insomnia

  • Irritability

  • High blood pressure

  • Chronic indigestion

  • Heart conditions

  • Problems breathing

  • Loss of sexual appetite

 

Western methods of dealing with anxiety include therapy and, in an increasingly overstretched health system, medication – specifically, antidepressants and sleeping pills.

 

It has been estimated that almost 30% of people will suffer from an anxiety disorder at least once during their lifetime. Acupuncture is a potent treatment for anxiety.

How does acupuncture work to improve anxiety?

Acupuncture is a therapy for the nervous system. In Chinese medicine, treatment focuses on caring for both body and mind without drugs. Different forms of anxiety are mostly caused by the [Chinese view of the] spleen, heart, liver, and kidneys. Factors such as lifestyle and nutrition can impair the function of one or more of these organs and lead to anxiety.

 

Acupuncture works to help anxiety by:

 

  • Increasing levels of endomorphin-1, beta endorphin, encephalin, and serotonin. These hormones cause analgesia and sedation.

  • improving the circulation of the blood, helping to oxygenate body tissue and remove cortisol and waste chemicals; and

  • lowering the heart rate, relaxing muscles, and reducing blood pressure.

 

The needles used are extremely thin – many no thicker than the width of two human hairs. They are inserted in strategic positions for your unique anxiety problems and condition. And there’s no need to worry about the pain – most patients don’t even realise the needles have been inserted!

Does acupuncture really help anxiety?

There have been many medical studies performed in the West with the aim of understanding whether acupuncture really works for a variety of conditions. Evidence from these show that a course of acupuncture helps those suffering from anxiety. For example:

 

A 2004 study by D. Warren Spence et al found that acupuncture improves anxiety levels as measured by the STAI scale.  The study also found that five weeks of acupuncture significantly increased nocturnal secretion of endogenous melatonin, helping to improve sleep time and efficiency. Evidence that acupuncture treatment may be of value for patients suffering with anxiety and insomnia.

 

A high-quality randomised controlled trial (RCT) reviewed by a team headed by Young-Dae Kim in 2013 concluded that acupuncture had statistically significant effects compared to a waitlist control, with results comparable to cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). In addition, the therapeutic effect of acupuncture was similar with CBT therapy based on the trial. Additionally, the clinical improvement related to acupuncture lasted for at least 3 months after the end of treatment in the high-quality RCT.

How long does it take for acupuncture to help anxiety?

Most patients notice a significant improvement in their anxiety and mental state after a few acupuncture sessions, and some will start feeling less anxious after just a couple of sessions. It really depends on the severity of your anxiety and the mental and physical problems that may be the underlying cause.

Which acupuncture points are used for anxiety?

The right acupuncture points to use for anxiety depend upon the type of anxiety and its cause. Each classification of anxiety is associated with a unique pattern of imbalance, and each is treated differently with acupuncture. There are different acupuncture points for different anxiety problems.

How will less anxiety make me feel?

Whatever your anxiety disorder, there is a unique acupuncture treatment to help. You’ll soon be taking advantage of the benefits of less anxiety. You’ll be:

  • More relaxed

  • Sleeping better

  • Better focused

  • More able to make decisions

 

Your physical health will improve, too.

What happens in your first acupuncture session?

Your first visit begins with a consultation period. You and I will discuss your medical history and any other relevant information. This consultation normally takes between 15 and 30 minutes. You may then ask any questions you may have, before we proceed with your acupuncture treatment.

 

Once the needles have been placed, they stay in position for 20 minutes. In total, your first session will last approximately one hour. Then we’ll schedule further one-hour sessions to allow the acupuncture to more fully address the physical and mental issues that are causing your anxiety. These extra sessions also include Shiatsu Massage, helping you relax, easing you into the acupuncture treatment, and better informing me of your health condition. Click here for more information about Shiatsu massage.

What my patients say about acupuncture for anxiety

“I saw Inbal for shoulder pain and stress relief. I was amazed by how acupuncture helped my pain and my stress.”

Carolyn S.

 

“I saw Inbal weekly over three months for anxiety, stress and sleep deprivation. Inbal was very thorough in her investigation of my symptoms, and I was impressed with how personalised the treatment was. I found the combination of Shiatsu massage and acupuncture very effective in helping me to relax, de-stress, and sleep well.”

Rory P.

How do I get started with acupuncture for anxiety?

By searching online and finding this website, you have taken the first step to improving your anxiety with acupuncture. You’ve found a qualified and experienced acupuncturist who specialises in treating people with anxiety disorders: people just like you.
To find out more, or to book a free consultation, click on the button below. I’m here to help.

References

Spence, D.W., Kayumov, L., Chen, A. et al (2004). Acupuncture Increases Nocturnal Melatonin Secretion and Reduces Insomnia and Anxiety: A Preliminary Report. The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, 16(1), 19-28.

Kim, Y.D., Heo, I., Shin, B.C. et al (2013). Acupuncture for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials and Prospective Clinical Trials. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine [online]. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/615857

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