Did you know May is National Mental Health Awareness Month? According to The National Alliance on Mental Illness, over 40 million adults in the U.S. (19.1%) have an anxiety disorder. Acupuncture is wonderful for reducing anxiety, and there’s a surprising amount of research on the topic.⠀
How does it work?
Acupuncture helps by:
- Regulating the autonomic nervous system and reducing elevated heart rate [reference]
- Lowering cortisol levels [reference]
- Increasing endorphins and regulating serotonin (which impacts mood and sleep, among other things) [reference]
Each of these actions make it phenomenal at relieving anxiety. In effect, acupuncture helps take the body of out “fight or flight mode.”
Several systematic reviews in the past decade support the use of acupuncture for reducing generalized anxiety and panic attacks.
For example, a 2016 systematic review of acupuncture and anxiety “…showed positive and statistically significant effects from using acupuncture for treating subjects with anxiety” [reference].
Another, more recent systematic review from 2018 took a look at an even larger group of studies, several of which compared acupuncture to pharmaceutical treatment. They concluded that, “Overall, there is good scientific evidence encouraging acupuncture therapy to treat anxiety disorders as it yields effective outcomes, with fewer side effects than conventional treatment” [reference].
Can I really relax and calm my anxiety with needles in?
This is a great question! The answer is yes! I know it sounds unlikely that resting with needles in would be possible, but it really is. Most of my patients fall asleep on the treatment table, no matter what they’re being treated for.
How? Two reasons. 1) The needles are incredibly thin – the width of a human hair – and many people don’t even feel them going in. And 2) remember, acupuncture dissolves the body’s “fight or flight” response. So most people feel slowly more and more relaxed as they rest on the table.
If you’re struggling with anxiety, you are not alone. Anxiety is one of the things I treat frequently. I see patients with a low-level generalized sense of anxiety and some who have full on panic attacks. Come in and give acupuncture a try. You’ll be surprised at how relaxed your body feels during and after your treatment!