Acupuncture for Anxiety
Acupuncture for Anxiety
Life is messy, and that’s often what makes it so beautiful. But what happens when the stress and chaos of life feel so unmanageable that you find yourself frozen, unable to move forward?
For one-third of Americans living with anxiety disorders, this experience can be an everyday challenge. Thankfully, acupuncture offers a range of benefits that can help ease your symptoms and improve your overall well-being.
Let’s explore how acupuncture works for anxiety and what you can expect on your first visit.
Tiny Needles, Big Relief: Acupuncture for Anxiety
Whether you’re new to acupuncture or have already experienced the benefits, you may wonder how putting needles in your body could make you feel less anxious.
The truth is acupuncture needles are just a tiny, painless tool that helps the body heal itself. Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin, sterile needles into specific points on the body, stimulating the flow of vital energy or “qi.” By re-balancing the body’s energy pathways, acupuncture can help with many issues – from pain to allergies to menopause.
So, How Does Acupuncture Work for Anxiety?
Acupuncture releases endorphins
Studies have shown that acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers and mood enhancers. Endorphins help reduce anxiety by promoting a sense of well-being and relaxation.
Acupuncture balances the nervous system
Acupuncture also affects the autonomic nervous system, regulating the body’s stress response. Acupuncture helps re-balance your nervous system’s sympathetic (fight-or-flight) and parasympathetic (rest-and-digest) branches. This re-balancing encourages a shift from the heightened stress response associated with anxiety towards a state of ease.
Acupuncture promotes feel-good neurotransmitters
Along with endorphins, acupuncture regulates neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) – all of which play critical roles in mood balance and stability. By promoting the release of these neurotransmitters, acupuncture can help you avoid mood swings and stay in a more positive state of mind.
Acupuncture reduces inflammation
Acupuncture has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body – but what does that have to do with anxiety? Chronic inflammation has been linked to the development and exacerbation of common anxiety disorders. By reducing general inflammation, acupuncture helps create a healthier physiological environment supporting your mental well-being.
The Benefits of Using Acupuncture for Anxiety
From medications to meditations, there are many different ways to manage anxiety. Acupuncture is unique in that it addresses both the biochemical and the mental-emotional aspects of anxiety so you can enjoy lasting relief. Here are five key advantages of including acupuncture as part of your anxiety management plan:
Acupuncture trains your body to manage stress better
Acupuncture does reduce stress and anxiety at the moment. But that’s not all – acupuncture also promotes a balanced response to stressors in the future. Regular acupuncture sessions teach your body to adapt and cope with stress more effectively. It helps re-balance your nervous system, allowing you to navigate challenging situations with greater ease and resilience. By training your body to manage stress better, acupuncture empowers you to face life’s ups and downs with a newfound calm.
Acupuncture is a gentle and safe alternative to medications
If the idea of relying on medications for anxiety doesn’t sit well with you, acupuncture provides a gentle and safe alternative. Individuals of nearly any age can use this natural therapy, which is generally well-tolerated. Contrary to common misconceptions, acupuncture is not a painful experience! The needles are extremely thin, and most people feel little to no discomfort during the treatment. It’s a non-invasive and drug-free option that allows you to prioritize your mental health without the potential side effects of medications.
Acupuncture helps you get quality rest
Sleeping well is crucial for maintaining a healthy mental balance, but anxiety often disrupts our ability to rest peacefully. This is where acupuncture comes to the rescue. By targeting the root causes of your anxiety and promoting relaxation, acupuncture can help improve your sleep quality. As your body finds balance and your mind becomes more at ease, you’ll discover that drifting off into a restful slumber becomes easier. With better sleep, you’ll wake up feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and better equipped to face the day ahead.
Acupuncture may work when other treatments haven’t
If you’ve tried various treatments for anxiety without success, don’t worry – acupuncture may offer you a fresh perspective. It can be particularly beneficial for individuals who haven’t found relief through other methods. As a holistic approach, acupuncture addresses anxiety by considering your whole body and its interconnected systems. By tapping into the body’s natural healing abilities, acupuncture provides a unique and personalized approach that may prove effective even when other treatments have fallen short.
Acupuncture promotes whole-body health
Anxiety affects not only your mental well-being but also your physical health. The beauty of acupuncture is that it addresses both aspects simultaneously, improving your whole-body health. Acupuncture supports your well-being by promoting relaxation, reducing stress, and re-balancing your body’s energy flow. Additionally, acupuncture has been known to alleviate other physical symptoms often associated with anxiety, such as muscle tension, headaches, and digestive discomfort.
What to Expect at Your Acupuncture Visit: FAQs
Many people are curious about acupuncture for anxiety but hold back because they aren’t sure what to expect. If that’s you, here are a few answers to some of the questions you may have so your first visit is comfortable and enjoyable.
Q: What happens during acupuncture treatment for anxiety?
A: During your acupuncture visit, the acupuncturist will begin by discussing your anxiety symptoms and medical history to understand your unique situation better. They may ask about your sleep patterns, stress levels, and other relevant factors. Based on this information, the practitioner will create a treatment plan tailored to your needs.
The treatment involves gently inserting thin, sterile needles into specific acupuncture points on your body. These points are carefully chosen based on their connection to anxiety relief and well-being. Once the needles are in place, you’ll lie comfortably and relax for 15 to 30 minutes while the acupuncture takes effect. Sometimes we may incorporate additional techniques such as gentle manipulation of the needles, heat therapy, or cupping to enhance the treatment’s effectiveness.
Q: Can I do acupuncture while taking an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication?
A: Absolutely! Acupuncture can be safely combined with other forms of treatment, including antidepressant medications, for an integrative approach to managing your anxiety. It’s essential to keep your healthcare provider informed about all the medicines you are undergoing, including acupuncture, so they can monitor your progress and make any necessary adjustments to your medication regimen.
Q: How long does it take for acupuncture to work for anxiety?
A: While many people feel relief during their first visit, the timeline for experiencing lasting benefits of acupuncture for anxiety varies from person to person. Some individuals may notice a difference after just a few sessions, while others may require more time. The cumulative effects of acupuncture build up over multiple treatments, so it’s essential to be patient and consistent with your sessions. Generally, starting with weekly or bi-weekly treatments is recommended initially, then adjusting the frequency as your symptoms improve. Remember that everyone’s journey is unique, and it may take a few weeks or months of regular acupuncture sessions to achieve significant and lasting relief from anxiety.
Q: Can I use acupressure if I’m having a panic attack? How long will it take to work?
A: Acupressure involves applying gentle pressure to specific acupuncture points on the body rather than using needles. This is a simple technique to learn and use whether you want to prevent anxiety or manage a current panic attack.
During a panic attack, you can try pressing or massaging the H7 point, also known as the Shenmen or Spirit Gate point. This point is located on the inside of the wrist, in line with the little finger. Applying pressure to this point can help calm the mind, reduce anxiety, and alleviate some physical symptoms of panic attacks.
Typically, it takes a few minutes of continuous pressure to notice a significant reduction in your anxiety levels. Pair acupressure with deep breathing to promote faster relaxation. If the panic attack persists or worsens, seek additional support from a healthcare professional.
Q: What acupuncture points are commonly used for anxiety?
A: Acupuncture points selected for anxiety treatment may vary depending on your specific symptoms and the practitioner’s assessment. However, some commonly used points for anxiety include the Shenmen (Spirit Gate) located in the ear, which helps promote calmness and tranquility, and the Yintang (Third Eye) point situated between the eyebrows, which can help soothe the mind and reduce stress. Additionally, points on the wrists, feet, and lower legs may be targeted to address anxiety-related physical symptoms or imbalances in the body’s energy flow. Your acupuncturist will determine the most appropriate points for your individual needs.
Have another question about how acupuncture for anxiety can help you? We’d be happy to talk you through it. Book a free consultation here to find out more.
Overcome Anxiety with Acupuncture
At Ravenswood Chiropractic in Chicago, we’re dedicated to helping you overcome the obstacles that keep you from living fully – and anxiety is one of the most common. We’ll help you stop the chronic stress cycle and restore your mental well-being through personalized acupuncture visits and other holistic care options.
Anxiety doesn’t have to control your life any longer. Visit us at Ravenswood Chiropractic & Wellness Center in Chicago, or book your appointment or free consultation here to experience the benefits of acupuncture for yourself.
Dr. Marlena Siroki, DACM, L.Ac. is an Acupuncturist in Chicago at Ravenswood Chiropractic & Wellness Center in Andersonville. Dr. Marlena received her Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in Chicago. She is a Nationally Board-Certified Acupuncturist and Herbalist and Diplomate of Oriental Medicine, certified by the National Certificate Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.