Can Acupuncture Help Treat My Anxiety?

January 07, 2021

Anxiety is more common than you may realize. About 80% of Americans claim to experience daily stress, and though stress can certainly contribute towards anxiety levels, it is technically fairly separate from anxiety. Anxiety can come in the form of the nerves that you feel on a regular basis, and it can also manifest in panic attacks that feel similar to heart attacks and have individuals fearing for their lives. Lots of people suffer from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) without even realizing it. They may otherwise suffer from other mental health conditions that are connected to anxiety, like obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

There are plenty of medications on the market to treat anxiety disorders, and they should be discussed with a psychiatrist. However, some individuals prefer a natural treatment for anxiety. This is often due to side effects that can come with medications. Although you should discuss any treatment with a psychiatrist, many people have recently started to turn to acupuncture for natural medicine, and specifically to treat anxiety disorders. Let's explore how this works, and whether or not it might be a good option for you.

How Does Acupuncture Treat Stress and Anxiety?

Those of you who aren't familiar with functional medicine and acupuncture may be skeptical as to its effectiveness in treating anxiety. Even if you are familiar with acupuncture, you may have heard more about how it is used to treat muscle pain and tension. In reality, acupuncture treatments are meant to be tailored around certain needs that each patient may have. It is not like western medications, which are often meant to treat one condition. Additionally, not all people that have been diagnosed with anxiety disorders may be recommended acupuncture as a natural treatment for anxiety by a Chinese medicine expert.

In general, receiving acupuncture is a very calming experience. Normally, acupuncture specialists will rely on a relaxing atmosphere, including aromatherapy and tranquil music. Patients are often advised to enter a meditative state if possible. Acupuncture may also increase the blood flow to areas in which needles are placed. This may relieve tension, and as anxiety often manifests in muscle tension, this could be one reason why so many sufferers of anxiety have received positive benefits from acupuncture.

Acupuncture takes a "whole system" approach, treating both the mind and the body. Theoretically, acupuncture also focuses on the qui, or energy of the person receiving the treatment. Acupuncture removes qui blockages, thus allowing people to relieve their anxiety more easily.

What If I'm Afraid of Needles?

Although acupuncture is often recommended as a natural treatment for anxiety, some sufferers of anxiety may be skeptical due to fears surrounding needles. It's not uncommon for people to seek acupuncture because they have anxieties about western medicine. Typically, the more that a person suffering from anxiety understands about acupuncture, the less they'll be worried about the experience.

Acupuncturists do not place needles randomly during acupuncture sessions. Needles are placed at specific pressure points to relieve anxiety. Some of the common points associated with anxiety include between the eyebrows, the breastbone, or the insides of the wrists. Generally, the needle placement process is reported to involve extremely minimal discomfort or none at all.

Additionally, it's important to understand that acupuncturists do not come without training. The opposite is true, in fact. Licensed acupuncturists go through hours and hours of not only training but academic, and actually need to get their Master's degrees before they are fully licensed. Most employers will not consider applicants that did not attend schools accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. You can check with the acupuncture clinic you are considering before making an appointment to verify if this is the case for them. But if a clinic is reputable, it will fully understand the seriousness of acupuncture and the importance of hiring qualified acupuncturists.

As a natural treatment for anxiety, acupuncture may not be ideal for everyone. But if you do your research and find a licensed acupuncturist, you have the potential to experience an excellent alternative to traditional medicine. Don't discount acupuncture before giving it a fair try.