Anxiety and depression are the new age epidemic that are spreading widely. With over 40 million people in the US suffering from anxiety and its symptoms, around 17.8 million have been reported with depression alone. In such a scenario, the world relies on anti-depressants and anxiety-relief medications which in some cases, have proved harmful.
If you’re questioning yourself, “is acupuncture effective and what is acupuncture used for”, then the answer is it can relive you effectively from anxiety issues.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese therapy that can cure your anxiety issues. Are you scared and unsure of the procedure? Don’t be! Read ahead and find out all about acupuncture benefits for anxiety and other related aspects.
Can Acupuncture Help Cure Anxiety?
Acupuncture as a technique involves the penetration of finely pointed and thin needles on various acupoints present within our skin. These acupoints channelize the energy within and cure the ailment or disorder. The needles induced inside stimulate power across several connected pathways.
China has an ancient history using acupuncture as a way of treatment. When we talk about acupuncture, the first thing you need to consider is choosing a well-trained practitioner of the respective procedure.
[Also Read: How to Get Rid of Anxiety Using Natural Remedies]
What Are the Acupuncture points for Anxiety?
Acupuncture points for anxiety or acupuncture for stress(1) relief are present at several places across the body. Some of the effective and efficient acupoints are –
- Bladder 10 (B10) – It is also known as Bladder 10 and is a very valid point since the start of the treatment. This is commonly called as the Heavenly pillar and is present at about one finger length downwards to the later end of the skull. It is present towards the outside of the spine in sideways to about half an inch. Acupuncture to this area usually helps in releasing anxiety, nervousness, exhaustion, stress, neck pain, and stiffness.
- Pericardium 3 (P3) – Pericardium 3 is located at the inner side of the arm, above the elbow in the bent arm position. This point is commonly called Crooked Marsh and generally helps relieve nausea, anxiety, elbow ache, wrist pain, and chest discomfort.
- Pericardium 6 (P6) – Present at about four inches below the wrist in the middle part, Pericardium 6 is an acupoint that enables faster recovery. Pressing it for approximately one minute will help you to get relaxation from nausea, heart palpitations, headaches and motion sickness.
- Heart 7 (H7) – Heart 7 is also known as the Spirit gate. It’s present on the left side of the wrist towards the little finger. It is helpful while having deep breaths and pressing the acupoints for at least 1 minute. It helps in curing the emotional disbalances, palpitations, fear, chest pain, cardiac ache, epilepsy, insomnia, and nervousness.
- Governing Vessel 24.5 (GV 24.5) – Governing Vessel 24.5 is one of the most effective acupoints to release stress and anxiety. It is known as the Third Eye Point, as it is present in the middle part of the forehead, between the eyebrows. It has proved to be beneficial in curing insomnia, problems related to eye, headaches, sleep disorders, congestion of nose, and vertigo.
- Ear Shenmen (ES) – Ear Shenmen(2) is one of the most beneficial ear acupuncture points for anxiety relief. It is present approximately 1 inch below the upper end of your ear in the center of the protruding portion. Upon stimulating this point, it tends to relax the mind by shifting it to the ‘Rest and digest’ or parasympathetic mode when the body is in ‘fight or flight’ mode. It drops the level of the stress hormone named cortisol and controls anxiety.
A well trained or professional practitioner will cover all safety aspects. In Acupuncture, pressure is applied to the needles to insert them at the acupoint surface. These delicate and hair-like needles cause no pain to you if entered appropriately. Heat, friction, suction, pressure, and electromagnetic energy impulses are the other factors that make the technique of acupuncture for anxiety relief work efficiently.
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How Many Sessions are Needed to Treat Anxiety Through Acupuncture?
People suffer from various anxiety-related disorders but what is it that differentiates an anxiety disorder from usual anxiety? How can we identify that a person has an anxiety disorder or he is suffering from normal situational anxiety? The simplest way to find the root cause of stress. This helps in formulating the number of sessions needed. The symptoms as per which the individual approaches the disorder are understood to find out what kind of anxiety the person is suffering with.
If in doubt, it is advisable to consult psychologists and psychiatrists for the same. Stressors are one of the major causes that enhance the possibility of an anxiety disorder(3) in an individual. The anxiety disorders are generalized according to the intensity of such emotional responses.
It is seen that people usually start showing signs of improvement in the first session of the acupuncture treatment for anxiety relief. Some people manage to set their lives on the right pathway and unpredictably show better results. They develop their keenness to explore more of their internal states and cope with themselves in a practical way.
What Are the Health Benefits of Acupuncture Treatment for Anxiety?
The benefits are:
- The mood gets changed when the proper amount of hormones, such as – noradrenaline, serotonin, GABA, dopamine and neuropeptide Y are released.
- Acupuncture helps in regulating the amount of these mood-changing neurohormones in the body.
- It also causes a reduction of pain and stress, which are always related to anxiety through ear acupuncture points.
- It helps in the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the sensation of relaxation.
What to Expect When You Undergo Acupuncture for Anxiety??
It is okay to be nervous on your first visit to the acupuncturist as the needles used are evidently intriguing. When you have an idea as for what happens in an acupuncture session for treating anxiety, your mind gets a little prepared, and this, in turn, helps to enhance the benefits of your acupuncture session.
The first visit can always take more time as compared to your follow-ups as the practitioner investigates and understands your problems to figure out the root cause of anxiety. Your practitioner will also inquire about your medical history, present medications, allergies, and other health-related questions before the treatment begins.
When the session begins, the acupuncturist will insert thin, long sterilized needles on various pressure points chosen as per their analysis. This insertion is almost painless, and you will not feel them getting into your skin mostly. They may also twist or electrocute them as per your case and then leave them as it is for approximately 20 minutes.
Depending on different scenarios, it takes around 30-45 minutes for an acupuncture session for anxiety relief to complete.
What acupuncture side effects and precautions must one be aware of?
While using the technique of acupuncture for curing anxiety, one should take care of the following things before going for the procedure –
- The needles used during the process should get sterilized beforehand and should be disinfected after further use. Not using clean needles can cause infections to the individual and there would be high chances for the bacteria to reach inside the body.
- If the needles are defective, insertion of the needles might harm the patient by resulting in organ damage. It is a very high risk if the practitioner is not skilled and might hurt the organs while displacing the needles.
- Always choose a well-trained practitioner that has recognized certification of that particular state and has spent many years in the training period.
- If a needle breaks while being inserted, then there is a high risk of the needle reaching some other parts of the body. Though it is a rare condition to take place, precautions should always be taken beforehand.
Acupuncture for anxiety plays a vital role in taking out all the stress and nervousness out of the mind and consciousness. If performed safely and at regular periods of the treatment, then it could result to be the smoothest way to reach the cure for the most common disorder of today – Anxiety.
One can also gently rub the valid points at home to get instant relaxation from the irritating problems related to stress. To remove the discomfort caused due to anxiety, one must get out of his comfort zone to deal with the treatment of anxiety.