Factsheet: Acupuncture for Anxiety

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Background information about acupuncture
Traditional Acupuncture is a safe and effective system of medicine that originated in China thousands of years ago and still forms an important part of mainstream healthcare there today.

In Traditional Acupuncture we view the human body in a holistic way. We focus on the health of the person as a whole and emphasise the connection between physical and emotional health. Every person is unique and one individual may become ill for different reasons to another so in Traditional Acupuncture we design each treatment according to the individual’s needs.

In Traditional Acupuncture, good health involves a smooth flow of energy (Qi) through channels in the body. Illness, injury or emotional stress occur when Qi is out of balance or unable to flow freely. Acupuncture maintains the body’s equilibrium and flow of Qi, by inserting fine needles into specific points on the body. This concept may seem a bit wacky, but Qi can actually just be seen as a metaphor for metabolic functions or chemical changes constantly taking place in the body.  Someone receiving acupuncture will often report an increased sense of well-being as well as improvement in the symptoms which brought them to treatment.

Anxiety and acupuncture
We all feel anxious sometimes, anxiety is a natural emotion. However, when it becomes persistent, irrational and excessive it can affect your quality of life.  Anxiety disorders include generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder. They can all cause considerable distress and disability.

As well as emotional symptoms such as nervousness, worry, disturbed sleep, irritability and poor concentration, anxiety can cause physical symptoms such as sweating, nausea, diarrhoea, palpitations, breathlessness, dizziness, muscle tension, trembling and twitching. Also, physical conditions can become worse with anxiety, for example, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines and tension headaches, and back pain.

In traditional acupuncture there is no single treatment for anxiety as each person has a different experience.  We treat you as an individual, identifying the imbalances which cause your anxiety, not just treating the symptoms themselves. Acupuncture treatment is enhanced when used alongside other self-help tools such as breathing techniques, exercise or mindfulness. We can develop a personalised ‘toolbox’ of techniques to help you manage your anxiety and enable you to retake control

How does acupuncture help? (the science bit)
In general, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules, promoting physical and emotional well-being. Research has shown that acupuncture treatment may benefit anxiety disorders and symptoms by:

  • Acting on areas of the brain known to promote relaxation and deactivating the ‘analytical’ brain, which is responsible for anxiety and worry.
  • Regulating levels of neurotransmitters and hormones to help to combat negative affective states.
  • Activating the parasympathetic nervous system, initiating the relaxation response.
  • Reversing pathological changes in levels of inflammatory cytokines that are associated with anxiety.
  • Reversing stress-induced changes in behaviour and biochemistry.

Acupuncture is a safe drug-free treatment. It can be safely and effectively combined with conventional treatments such as medication or talking therapies and CBT.

What to expect in a multibed clinic
We treat several people together in one room. It is possible for us to work in this way because acupuncture needles usually take 20-40 minutes to do their work. We are able to place needles in one patient, leave them to relax into their treatment, and then move on to another patient.

At the People’s Acupuncture Project up to 6 people are treated at the same room bringing a community spirit to the experience. You may feel nervous about coming into this environment but we are a very warm and welcoming clinic. Patients in multibed clinics consistently report that they like the sense of togetherness and humanity they find.  Research shows that patients treated in multibed clinics report many positive experiences and very few negative.

Some people may be concerned about privacy but it isn’t usually necessary to remove clothes as the most-frequently used points are on the arms and legs. Wearing loose clothing means we can get to the points we need. We also have gowns and blankets available if necessary. We will do everything we can to ensure you feel comfortable.

Need more information?
Give us a call or drop us an email for a discussion about how acupuncture can help you, how we work, or other query you might have about treatment.

click here for a printable pdf version of this factsheet

(please contact us if you would like a fully referenced copy of this factsheet)

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