Acupuncture for Stress and Anxiety
Acupuncture is a safe, natural, and effective treatment in treating stress and anxiety.
For many of us stress has become a part of our daily lives and can affect us in a multitude of ways. The feelings of stress are a normal response to events in our lives that may feel beyond our control. When we are healthy and the stress is short-lived, we are usually able to recover from the stress quickly and without much affect to our overall health.
However, when the stress is extreme, or long lasting it can take a toll on our mental, emotional, and physical health. Some people may begin to experience symptoms that are quite easily treated with acupuncture, including:
- Irritability and anxiety
- Emotional ups and downs
- Feelings of overwhelm
- Heart palpitations
- Low energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Digestive issues
- IBS (irritable Bowel Syndrome)
- Headaches and migraines
- Low energy and feeling burnt out
- Ringing in the ears
- Early menopause
- Low libido
- Hair loss
- Frequent sighing, belching or hiccups
Our bodies are naturally hardwired to help us react to stress and has a built-in stress response system to threatening situations called the ‘fight or flight response’. These situations may be actual threats of danger or just a perceived threat.
The ‘fight or flight response’ refers to a specific biochemical reaction that we experience during intense stress or fear. During this reaction, certain hormones like adrenalin and cortisol are released, speeding up the heart rate, slowing digestion, and shunting blood flow to major muscle groups, giving the body a burst of energy and strength.
The ‘fight or flight response’ was named for its ability to enable us to physically fight this threat (‘fight’) or to run away from it (‘flight’), which worked well back in the caveman days. In today’s world, this type of response does not serve us as well and is now being activated in situations where neither response is appropriate; like a difficult boss, a stressful day at work, dealing with bad drivers on the freeway, sitting in traffic, a nasty co-worker, constantly coordinating your family’s busy schedules, or even a situation you feel worried about.
Ideally, after the threat is gone the body is designed to return to normal function via the relaxation response system within 20 to 60 minutes. But more often than not, the stress in our lives is a frequent, long lasting, daily occurrence and we find ourselves in a constant state of “fight or flight”, thus in a constant state of stress and anxiety.
Over time, the constant state of stress and anxiety takes its toll and can damage the body. Cortisol, the body’s stress hormone elevates, blood pressure increases, and our immune function is suppressed. Over time, these symptoms become worse and can develop into daily anxiety, depression, fatigue, digestive problems, and tension headaches.
Acupuncture for Stress and Anxiety Relief
Acupuncture works by acting on areas of the brain in charge of promoting the relaxation response and changing the way your body metabolizes the stress. Acupuncture regulates hormones and neurotransmitters that are known to affect our mood and well-being, such as endorphins, serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine. In addition, acupuncture improves circulation of blood throughout the body, which oxygenates the tissues and cycles out cortisol and other waste chemicals. The calming nature of acupuncture also decreases heart rate, lowers blood pressure, improves blood flow to your digestive tract, and relaxes the muscles.
Acupuncture can be used safely and effectively in conjunction with western medications and therapies used in the treatment of stress and anxiety.
That means you do not need to come off any existing medications before beginning treatment. In fact, acupuncture often helps to reduce the side effects of medication thus enhancing their therapeutic effects.
Researchers at Georgetown University used lab studies to demonstrate that acupuncture slows the body’s production of stress hormones. Their findings were published in the April 2013 issue of the Journal of Endocrinology.