Americans are an anxious bunch. It seems today pressures have programmed many of us to live in a state of nervous anticipation, where regardless of circumstances, we are uncomfortable, uneasy or persistently worried. Hearts race, palms sweat, and breathing becomes heavy. Most, if not all of us can relate to these feelings, but when symptoms like those continue beyond short periods and begin to disrupt our daily life, this can be classified as an anxiety disorder. In the U.S. every third person suffers from some form of an Anxiety Disorder during their lifetime.
What we are looking to address with treatment is over-activity of emotions, generally regulated by the Pre-Frontal Cortex according to Western medicine, or the Shen (conscious energy of the heart-mind) according to Eastern medicine. Neuro-pathways in the emotional centers of the brain are over-activated in anxiety, and acupuncture has been shown to temporarily block these pathways in order to calm an emotional response. This is in line with the Chinese Medicine theory of the shen’s regulatory effect on the body and its ability to balance emotions.
While anxiety can be observed in the brain, there are simultaneous changes in the body we can measure in terms of blood-hormone levels. The stress hormone cortisol courses through our blood at increased levels when we are in a state of anxiety. Acupuncture has long been recognized for its ability to calm a stress response, signaling the body to pull cortisol back out of the blood and return blood-cortisol to normal levels.
In looking at a compilation of research studies on acupuncture for anxiety, not only was it found that acupuncture is an effective tool for anxiety treatment but that it works fast! Consistently studies suggest that acupuncture can quickly relieve anxiety within 6 weeks. This really points to the complementary role acupuncture can play in treatment, as a way to get immediate benefits while other approaches build to their effectiveness.
Patients with anxiety need to be treated with special care. Many will be nervous, especially if it’s their first time getting acupuncture. The thought of getting “poked” with little needles can be anxiety-inducing for many, but surprisingly, even the most needle shy patients, with the right acupuncturist, often finally find the relief they’ve been looking for.
You don’t have to be suffering from anxiety disorder to experience the spirit-calming satisfaction of an acupuncture treatment. With the emotional ups and downs of our lives and the stress of our modern world, the acupuncture table can be a safe refuge that allows you to return to balance. Call today to get on that table!