Acupuncture for Anxiety


Acupuncture treats the root of stress and anxiety

Although millions of Americans suffer from anxiety, depression, high levels of stress and other mood conditions many find standard medical treatment unsatisfactory.  Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can help where standard treatments do not by seeking to understand the true underlying cause of the particular mood condition.  Once the root cause is identified and the internal imbalance corrected symptoms can go away or decrease significantly.

What are the causes and symptoms of Anxiety and Stress?

Anxiety is a psychological and physiological condition characterized by excessive worry about everyday life events.  People may find that they cannot relax without the assistance of medication, alcohol or other drugs.  The sufferer is usually unaware of the cause of the anxiety. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is the most common of many types which include panic, obsessive compulsive (OCD), and post-traumatic stress (PTSD) and social anxiety disorders.There are several causes of anxiety and stress.  They can include:

  • Hereditary predisposition
  • Biochemical imbalances in the brain
  • Lifestyle, diet and sedentariness
  • Hypothalimic-Pituitary-Adrenal axis dysfunction
  • Unresolved past trauma
  • Other causes.

Anxiety and stress left untreated can be the cause for other disorders including headaches, insomnia, pms, diabetes, weight gain and heart disease.

How is anxiety and stress treated by my doctor?

Your doctor may prescribe anti-anxiety medications benzodiazepines which are tranquilizers.  These include Clonazepam (Klonopin), Lorazepam (Ativan), Alprazolam (Xanex) or Diazepam (Valium).  Other medication options may include anti-depressants, or beta-blockers. Your doctor will explain to you the side effects of these medications which can include:

  • Lack of energy and drowsiness
  • Clumsiness, slow reflexes
  • Slurred Speech
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Depression
  • Impaired judgment and slow thinking
  • Memory loss
  • Nausea, upset stomach
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Suicidality
  • Nervousness
  • Weight gain
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Addiction

Your doctor will also explain to you that medication is not enough.

Medication by itself only masks symptoms of anxiety and stress and does not address the underlying cause.  They will not solve relationship, financial, career stress or medical problems.  Medications are not a substitute for adequate rest and relaxation, exercise and nourishing food.  Your doctor may also refer you to a psychiatrist, talk-therapist, hypnotist, acupuncturist or meditation instructor.

How does an acupuncturist evaluate anxiety and stress?

A Chinese Medical (CM)  physician will always seek to understand the root cause of the disorder.  As detailed above, there can be many causes of anxiety.  A full health history will be taken.  The lifestyle will be examined to address any underlying problems that might be contributing.  Blood and/or saliva tests measuring biochemical markers can be ordered.  A Chinese medical diagnosis will also be determined.  This type of diagnosis (or pattern in CM) is determined via signs and symptoms both reported by the patient and determined by the acupuncturist through pulse, tongue and abdominal palpation.

Chinese medicine has grouped different types of anxiety into patterns and subcategories.  The pattern is determined by considering the patients emotions as well as their unique physiological presentation.  For instance a patient may present with anger and frustration while another may present with sadness and a feeling of powerlessness.  One may feel like they can never relax while another person will feel fatigued and low energy.  Both are presentations of anxiety but have differing patterns and thus require unique treatment plans.

How does an acupuncturist treat anxiety and stress

After considering all signs and symptoms and determining the specific category of anxiety a custom tailored holistic treatment plan is created.  This treatment plan is designed to bring the body back into a state of emotional and physical balance.  Acupuncture and herbal medicine can have a profound impact on re-balancing hormones and neurotransmitters.  Specific supplements may be prescribed along with specific relaxation techniques and exercises.  We also closely examine dietary, sleep and/or other lifestyle habits in order to dramatically increase the efficacy of treatment. In the event that a referral is made to another mental health professional, treatment will be coordinated.

The length of treatment usually varies anywhere from four to twelve treatments or more depending on the severity of the condition.  Many patients begin to feel improvement after just a few sessions.