A patient with a panic disorder learning about the effects of acupuncture.

Why Acupuncture Treatment for Anxiety Works

Acupuncture treatment is a traditional Chinese medicine that has been practiced for over 3000 years, with the first reference to the practice appearing in 100 BCE. Even though it’s been around for quite awhile, many of the benefits of acupuncture are just now being recognized by the Western healthcare industry.

A visit to a licensed acupuncturist can help relieve lower back pain, and now more than ever before, people are seeking acupuncture treatment for anxiety disorders – and they’re seeing results! If you’re looking for new treatment options within your treatment plan for a mental health medical condition (such as social anxiety or panic disorder), acupuncture sessions may be exactly what you’re looking for.

Causes for Various Types of Anxiety

Generalized anxiety disorder and other types of anxiety or panic disorders can be caused by a number of things. For instance, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is caused by either a single traumatizing event or prolonged exposure to stressful or traumatic circumstances. Other anxiety and panic disorders can develop for similar reasons, or because of genetic or psychological predispositions. Additionally, some anxiety disorders cause specific phobias like agoraphobia and separation anxiety disorder.

Side effects of anxiety disorders include shortness of breath, excessive worry, panic attacks, and a deregulated nervous system. (A deregulated nervous system produces high levels of stress hormones like cortisol and not enough feel-good hormones like serotonin.)

How Acupuncture Works For Anxiety

Acupuncture helps regulate an imbalanced nervous system and reduce the production of cortisol, returning the body to a relaxed state. During an acupuncture session, a licensed practitioner uses acupuncture needles to stimulate specific points of the body. In traditional oriental medicine these points of the body are called meridians and are considered crucial pathways where the body’s energy gets blocked.

Over the years, the methods and use of acupuncture have evolved. Some acupuncturists now practice electroacupuncture and develop personalized acupressure point treatments for their patients based on a combination of the patient’s symptoms, the nervous system, and acupoints from traditional Chinese medicine practices.

Specific acupuncture points like Shenmen (a point on the wrist) and Hegu (a point between the thumb and index finger) have been shown to help manage the symptoms of anxiety and improve patients’ mood.

Clinical Trials on Acupuncture as a Treatment of Anxiety

There have been several systematic reviews and clinical trials on the use of acupuncture as effective treatment of anxiety. This meta-analysis of six published randomized controlled trials found that there was a positive link between the use of acupuncture as a treatment of psychiatric disorders like anxiety and depression in women.

Another study on the additive effects of acupuncture found that acupuncture in addition to antidepressants was more effective than using antidepressants alone. This study had a sample size of 105 patients split into three groups – those on antidepressants alone, those on antidepressants receiving acupuncture treatments, and those on antidepressants receiving sham acupuncture treatments (control group). The group receiving true acupuncture treatments showed significantly lower self-reported anxiety symptoms, as well as slightly lower cortisol levels.

Side Effects of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a very safe and effective method to handle anxiety, and there are very few side effects associated with the treatment. Most side effects reported after acupuncture are extremely mild and consist of slight dizziness, lightheadedness, numbness, tingling, or bruising in the area where acupuncture needles were applied.

Is an Acupuncture Treatment Plan Right For You?

Regular acupuncture sessions can help increase your overall well being, decrease chronic pain and help improve your mental health. If you’re struggling with a panic disorder or a type of anxiety disorder, acupuncture can be a complementary and alternative medicine option that helps regulate your nervous system.

However, when you are dealing with mental health issues, it helps to seek out an integrated approach to wellness, including high-quality psychotherapy. Many integrated health systems are now combining psychiatry services with primary care, and incorporating holistic, traditional medicines like acupuncture into the mix.

Finding an Integrated Solution at Meridian HealthCare

At Meridian HealthCare, we believe that whole body wellness requires whole-patient care. That’s why we’re committed to developing inventive, integrated approaches to treatment plans. If you’re looking for new ways to manage your anxiety, we’re here for you. We offer a wide range of services, such as licensed therapists for psychotherapy, acupuncture for anxiety, chiropractors for chronic pain, and primary care physicians for your family’s general well-being.

Start feeling better about your mental health today by developing a new approach to wellness. Schedule an appointment with one of our acupuncturists, or find out more about our mental health services. When you’re ready to take a step towards a brighter tomorrow, we’ll be right here ready to walk with you.