Anxiety takes many forms and can range from mild to very severe. Each person experiences it differently. Sometimes, an anxiety disorder can make it hard to cope with everyday life, and people who suffer from panic attacks often feel afraid to go outside for fear of having a panic attack in public.
It’s also extremely difficult to explain what you’re experiencing to another person. Yet anxiety disorders are actually the most common mental illness in the US.
If you’re dealing with anxiety, you might be wondering if it’s worth trying acupuncture. Acupuncture is used as a treatment for anxiety in the US and all over the world. Today’s post will explain how and why acupuncture is effective for anxiety and what to expect if you decide to try it.
The mind-body connection
Our bodies are not separate from our thoughts and feelings. Our minds and bodies are constantly influencing each other, and anxiety is one of the most clear examples of this. Most of us have experienced both mental and physical aspects of anxiety at one point or another. It could be as mild as sweating before a big presentation, or feeling queasy before an important job interview. Or it could be as severe as recurring panic attacks that make you feel as though you can’t breathe.
There are several types of anxiety disorders, so it’s difficult to lay out a definitive list of anxiety symptoms, but anxiety can include:
- Cognitive symptoms, like racing thoughts
- Emotional symptoms, like fear and dread
- Behavioral symptoms, like irritability
- Physical symptoms, like increased heart rate and hyperventilation
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, anti-anxiety medications, and acupuncture have all been shown to be helpful in treating anxiety. (In fact, all three can be safely used together.)
How can acupuncture help with anxiety?
Many clinical trials over the years have confirmed what we’ve seen over and over again in practice: that acupuncture reduces symptoms of anxiety and improves people’s quality of life with fewer side effects than conventional treatments. But how does it work? Acupuncture encourages the body to:
- Release neurotransmitters that help regulate emotions, such as serotonin and endorphins
- Decrease stress-related hormones
- Modulate the autonomic nervous system
- Promote immune system health
The benefits of acupuncture for anxiety
Acupuncture is extremely low-risk and easy to tolerate. In fact, many people don’t even feel the pins, and some people even fall asleep!
One of the biggest benefits of acupuncture is that it works extremely well alongside your other treatments. It has none of the unpleasant side effects that many prescription anti-anxiety medications have, so you don’t have to worry about drug interactions. Actually, acupuncture can help reduce drug side effects. Even better, there’s evidence that acupuncture enhances patients’ responses to prescription anti-anxiety medications.
Another benefit of acupuncture? It’s also a great treatment for insomnia, which often accompanies anxiety disorders and worsens symptoms. For many people with anxiety, being able to sleep better can help break the cycle of constant stress, worry, and negative thoughts.
Thinking of trying acupuncture? Here’s what to expect.
If you’ve never tried acupuncture before, it can be daunting to make that first appointment. We’ll do everything we can to help you feel comfortable and cared for when you visit us. We’re also happy to answer any questions you have before you get started, and we’ll work with you to create a treatment plan that addresses all your concerns. We want to help you feel better, less anxious, and more in control of your life.