According to the World Health Organization, anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental health disorders globally, affecting approximately 264 million people. ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America) mention that 40 million Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder – that is 19.1% of the population aged 18 and older. The figure does not factor in the growing number of children suffering from anxiety which is placing strain on teachers who need to adapt their classrooms to assist these students. This is why acupuncture for anxiety treatment is so profound.
We are not talking here about the common anxiety we experience before a date or an exam, or the prospect of talking to a group of people, which is quite normal. An anxiety disorder is so debilitating people cannot function efficiently. They are too anxious to drive and become dependent on others. They cannot go into crowded places, so shopping has to be done for them. The prospect of going to a social function can be so overwhelming that they find it easier to stay home where they feel safe.
Common symptoms of anxiety include excessive worrying, restlessness, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and sleep disturbances, but anxiety is also classified into types such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) panic disorder, social anxiety disorder and various specific phobias, such as agoraphobia, which involves a fear of crowded places.
The Role of Acupuncture in Treating Anxiety
Acupuncture, has been used for centuries to treat both physical and mental health conditions, including anxiety. This key component of traditional Chinese medicine involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to restore the flow of energy (Qi),
The needles stimulate the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers and mood enhancers. Acupuncture also helps regulate the body’s stress response by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, to promote a state of calm and relaxation.
Unlike traditional anxiety treatments, such as medication or therapy, acupuncture takes a holistic approach by addressing the underlying imbalances in the body that may contribute to anxiety symptoms.
Acupuncture has been shown to affect the nervous system by stimulating the release of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, which play a role in regulating mood. It also activates the body’s natural pain-relieving mechanisms, which can help alleviate the physical symptoms associated with anxiety.
Additionally, acupuncture has been found to regulate stress hormones, such as cortisol, which are often elevated in individuals with anxiety disorders.
Acupuncture vs. Medications
While traditional anxiety medications can be effective in managing symptoms, they often come with a range of side effects. Common side effects of anxiety medications include drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, and sexual dysfunction. In some cases, these medications can also be habit-forming and may lead to dependence.
Acupuncture, on the other hand, is a natural and non-invasive treatment option that does not carry risks of side effects or dependency. It provides a holistic approach by addressing the root causes of anxiety rather than just masking the symptoms.
What Can I Expect During a Session of Acupuncture for Anxiety?
During the initial consultation, the acupuncturist will assess your symptoms and medical history to develop a personalized treatment plan.
Acupuncture sessions typically last between 30 to 60 minutes. You may experience a mild sensation or tingling at the insertion site of the very thin needle, but acupuncture is generally painless. It is important to relax and breathe deeply during the session to maximize the benefits of acupuncture. Many people find acupuncture sessions to be deeply relaxing and report a sense of calm and well-being afterward.
How Many Acupuncture Sessions will I need for Anxiety Relief?
The number of sessions needed of acupuncture for anxiety relief will vary depending on the individual and the severity of their symptoms. Factors such as the duration of the anxiety disorder, overall health, and response to treatment will need to be considered by your acupuncture professional.
In general, your acupuncturist may recommend that you start with weekly acupuncture sessions for a period of 6 to 8 weeks, allowing for assessment of your progress and to make any necessary adjustments to the treatment plan. After the initial phase, the frequency of sessions may be reduced to once every two weeks or even monthly visits. It takes time for the body to respond to treatment and for the effects to become noticeable. You will need to be patient and keep up your appointments consistently in order to see progress.
The Benefits of Combining Acupuncture with Other Treatments
Acupuncture can be a valuable addition to therapy or medication for anxiety, enhancing the effectiveness of these treatments and providing additional support. Good sleep and relaxation are necessary to reduce anxiety, which unfortunately an anxious person finds difficult to achieve, making it something of a Catch 22 situation. In combination with therapy, acupuncture can help clients develop coping mechanisms to reduce stress levels.
For those already taking anxiety medications, acupuncture can help reduce the dosage required and minimize the risk of side effects. It can also address any underlying imbalances in the body that may contribute to anxiety, providing a more comprehensive approach to treatment.
Success Stories: Real-Life Experiences of Anxiety Relief through Acupuncture
Many individuals have found relief from anxiety through acupuncture and have experienced significant improvements in their quality of life. Here are some real-life success stories:
1. John, a 42-year-old man, had been experiencing panic attacks for several months. He was hesitant to try medication and decided to give acupuncture a try. After just a few sessions, he noticed a decrease in the frequency and intensity of his panic attacks. He also reported feeling more relaxed and less anxious overall.
2. Emily, a 28-year-old woman, had been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder. She had tried therapy and medication without much improvement. After starting acupuncture treatment, Emily noticed a gradual reduction in her anxiety symptoms. She reported feeling more confident in social situations and less overwhelmed by her anxiety.
If you are considering acupuncture for anxiety relief, it is important to find a qualified acupuncturist who specializes in mental health conditions. A personalized treatment plan based on your individual needs will be provided and you will be guided on your path to recovery. We are not saying acupuncture is a quick fix for anxiety; what it can do is provide long-term relief and improve your overall well-being.