Acupuncture for Anxiety

Acupuncture for Anxiety

Acupuncture for anxiety is a healthcare treatment widely practised across the UK and the world to alleviate symptoms of chronic anxiety. In 2013 there were over 8 million cases of anxiety disorder in the UK and in 2016 about 6 percent of all UK adults reported experiencing Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

Anxiety spans a wide range of conditions including work-related stress, panic disorder, OCD, PTSD, exam stress, agoraphobia and is identified when someone experiences excessive worry on most days and has difficulty controlling these feelings which can include restlessness and irritability.

Acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. The resulting biochemical changes influence the body’s homeostatic mechanisms, thus promoting physical and emotional well-being.

Acupuncture for anxiety

Research has shown that acupuncture for anxiety may specifically benefit anxiety disorders and symptoms of anxiety by:

  • Acting on areas of the brain known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promoting relaxation and deactivating the ‘analytical’ brain, which is responsible for anxiety and worry.
  • Regulating levels of neurotransmitters and hormones such as serotonin, noradrenaline, dopamine, GABA, neuropeptide Y and ACTH; hence altering the brain’s mood chemistry to help to combat negative affective states
  • Stimulating production of naturally-occurring opioids within the body that affect the autonomic nervous system. Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, while acupuncture can activate the opposing parasympathetic nervous system, which initiates the relaxation response.
  • Reversing pathological changes in levels of inflammatory cytokines that are associated with anxiety and depression
  • Reversing stress-induced changes in behaviour and biochemistry

There are also preliminary positive findings for acupuncture for anxiety associated with post-traumatic stress disorder, substance misuse, eating disorders, hyperventilation, asthma, insomnia, post-stroke, musculo-skeletal pain and various other conditions where anxiety has been measured as a secondary rather than primary issue. Acupuncture for anxiety can be safely combined with conventional treatments such as medication or psycho-educational therapy, possibly enhancing their beneficial effects and reducing unwanted side-effects.

acupuncture for anxiety

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