Can Acupuncture Help with Stress and Anxiety?

The global pandemic that has brought the world to a standstill in recent years has also brought a lot of stress and anxiety into our lives. We have all been affected by this, whether we are aware or not.

g;lobal pandemic_6511819 S YKbacN_DPIn fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the first year of the pandemic triggered a 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression around the world, the worst hit being young people and women.

In a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, the stress brought on by the pandemic caused a lot of health issues. For example, many people experienced physical health decline due to the inability to cope with stress. People reported that they had gained or lost an undesirably large amount of weight, were drinking more alcohol to cope and weren’t getting enough sleep.

Even now, we are still experiencing stress and anxiety from the pandemic. In fact, it is estimated that as many as 50 million Americans will experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) eve after the pandemic has run its course. Millions more people are now suffering from PTSD.

The good news is that there is help for those who suffer from anxiety and stress. One way to reduce your stress levels is with acupuncture. According to research, acupuncture can be effective in reducing stress and anxiety.

stressedwoman_72811167 S 8XkC3d_DPStress Versus Anxiety

Stress is when we feel worried about something bad happening to us. When we experience stress, our body releases the hormones adrenaline and cortisol which make us feel anxious.

Anxiety is an escalation of stress. The feeling of worry is often accompanied by fear, nervousness, apprehension, tension, dread, uneasiness, and even panic. It is the opposite of calm and peace.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “anxiety disorders are among the most common mental illnesses.” They affect approximately 40 million adults in the United States alone.

How Does Acupuncture Work to Relieve Stress and Anxiety?

Acupuncture works in at least two ways: one is called qi gong, and the other is meridian therapy. Both of them work together to relieve stress and anxiety.

Qi Gong

Acupuncture uses energy channels known as meridians to stimulate points along the body’s surface. Many of these points are located where the body’s organs meet.

Qi gong is based on the theory that there is a vital life force that flows throughout the body. When you practice qigong exercises, you move your muscles while focusing on breathing deeply. You also focus your mind and that helps to regulate emotions. In the process, you release negative thoughts and feelings.

meridiantherapy_139184056 S bFyRtl_DPMeridian Therapy

Meridian therapy involves stimulating specific areas of the body using needles. There are 12 main meridians that run through the body. Each meridian corresponds to an organ system.

These meridians are connected to certain acupoints. Acupoints are places along the body where there is a dense concentration of nerve endings. By stimulating these points, you can improve blood circulation, increase metabolism, boost immunity, and relax muscle tissue.

For instance, the lung meridian runs from the sides of the nose to the hands. The liver meridian runs from the chest to the toes.

By stimulating these specific areas, you can improve blood circulation which helps to remove toxins from the body.

There are two types of acupuncture treatments that can help alleviate stress and anxiety.

Needle Electroacupuncture

This type of treatment involves inserting needles into the skin at specific locations. The needles are then stimulated using electricity.

Manual Acupuncture

This type of treatment requires the use of small needles that are inserted manually. The needles are placed at specific points on the body.

Both methods have been proven to be effective in treating stress and anxiety.

acupuncture for stress_213682180 S pcJUA7_DPHow Does Acupuncture Work on Stress and Anxiety?

Acupuncture works on the body’s energy system. It stimulates certain points on the body called acupoints. When you feel stressed out, these acupoints send signals to your brain which helps to calm your mind and relax your muscles.

Acupuncture also stimulates other parts of your body including your heart, lungs, and stomach. These organs then work together to keep you healthy and happy.

When you receive acupuncture treatment, your practitioner will use thin needles to stimulate your acupoints. They will do this using different techniques depending on what part of the body needs attention.

For example, if you want to relieve stress, your practitioner may insert one needle directly into your skin while another might go deeper into muscle tissue. If you are feeling anxious, your practitioner may insert several needles into your skin and muscle tissues. 

What Are the Benefits of Acupuncture Treatment for Stress and Anxiety?

There are many benefits of receiving acupuncture treatment for stress and anxiety. Here are just a few:

1. You get to enjoy a relaxing environment without having to worry about anything else. Your practitioner will make sure you are comfortable during your session.

2. You don’t need to take any pills or drugs to treat your condition. All you need is time and patience.

3. Acupuncture is safe. There are no side effects associated with it.

4. Herbs recommended by acupuncturists are typically less expensive than medications.

5. It’s easy to schedule appointments.

6. You can continue to receive treatments until you feel better.

7. The best thing about acupuncture is that it works!

8. You can find practitioners near you.

9. It’s noninvasive.

10. It’s natural.

11. It’s not addictive.

relaxed woman_6285780 S hHHu42_DPWhat Can You Expect After Being Treated with Acupuncture for Stress and Anxiety?

After a series of acupuncture treatments for stress and/or anxiety, you should expect to see improvements within a short period of time. Some people notice results right away while others might need three or more sessions before they start seeing changes. You may experience some soreness after your first treatment but this usually disappears quickly.

Here are three common things that people experience after being treated with acupuncture for stress and anxiety:

1. Relaxation

One benefit of acupuncture treatment for stress and anxiety is relaxation. The needles used in  the acupuncture treatment stimulate your nervous system and activate the parasympathetic response. As a result, you feel relaxed.

2. Better Sleep

Another benefit of receiving acupuncture treatment for anxiety is better sleep. Acupuncture stimulates your endocrine glands which makes them produce hormones that regulate your sleeping patterns.

3. Improved Mood

A third benefit of acupuncture treatment for anxiety is improved mood. The needles used in this therapy stimulate your central nervous system. This improves your ability to think clearly and concentrate.

How long does it take for acupuncture to work for stress and anxiety?

Acupuncture works quickly, usually within 30 minutes. However, some people may need longer periods of treatment. The length of treatment depends on how severe the condition is, and whether you have had previous treatments. The effects of acupuncture are cumulative.

Acupuncture is the Answer to Cope with Anxiety and Stress

If you have been silently suffering from stress, anxiety, or both in the past few days or years, you will benefit from the effects of acupuncture treatments. Acupuncture treats the “whole person.” So, even if your treatment protocol is focused on stress and anxiety, it is likely that you will experience improvements to your overall health and well-being. 

While stress and anxiety are normal parts of life, if they become excessive or chronic they can have serious consequences and negative effects on your health. It’s important to learn how to manage stress effectively in order to maintain good mental health.

About the author

Dr. Gala Gorman is a licensed Acupuncturist, Naturopath, and Author who offers expert advice and programs to help people prevent disease. She uses advanced techniques that "reverse the clock" on aging. She founded the Delta Discovery Center with her partner, Charlie Frangos, to provide a place for self-discovery and healing on Hilton Head Island and beyond. Dr. Gala helps people learn to be their own health advocates.