Anxiety is worrying about the future. It is thought to affect up to one in eight of us at any one time. Over the course of our lifetimes, most people will have experienced feelings of anxiety in some way. Of course, anxiety is a natural human reaction which we have evolved to help us cope with what's ahead, but for many of us, it can develop into something bigger than the problem itself.
Anxiety sufferers tend to have lots of lists and like control and predictability, which helps to minimise anxiety. When anxiety is having a negative effect on your life, and you feel in the fight or flight response, it's time to think about how to combat it. Acupuncture can be a useful and effective method of dealing with a range anxiety-related disorders.
Symptoms of anxiety
Anxiety disorders cover a spectrum of conditions including Generalised Anxiety Disorder; a type of stress that causes individuals to feel overly worried or fearful. Anxiety can range from mild to severe and for some individuals, it can be hugely debilitating. The causes of anxiety are manifold and include society, work, family, trauma, underlying chemical imbalances, grief, loneliness and in more modern times, social media.
The symptoms you may notice in yourself include generalized restlessness, feeling as if you are 'on edge' and having a sense of dread, which can be a warning sign. As a result of anxiety, you may also find yourself to be irritable and also have difficulty concentrating on other areas of your life.
Physical symptoms can include sweating, trembling, panic attacks, shortness of breath, IBS and even headaches and back pain. Also included under the umbrella of anxiety disorders are obsessive-compulsive disorder, personal crisis, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder and panic disorders. All of these anxiety disorders can cause individuals to suffer long term at home and at work, jeopardizing both family life and even careers.
How can acupuncture help relieve anxiety?
The ancient treatment of acupuncture has been used to help with anxiety disorders (though they were not always called that) for centuries. Because acupuncture attempts to encourage your equilibrium of qi (positive energy) so that it can flow freely throughout your body, it's perfectly suited for emotional or mental health problems.
Acupuncture has been found to help particularly well with acute or chronic anxiety, such as anxiety around a forthcoming medical or dentistry operation, as well as with post-traumatic stress disorder. One way that acupuncture helps is by boosting levels of serotonin and dopamine, therefore boosting the brain with hormones that fight negative feelings.
Why choose acupuncture?
Acupuncture is of course just one of many routes available for dealing with anxiety, however, it offers certain benefits over alternative options. For instance, some individuals choose to take medicine to combat anxiety, but acupuncture has no side effects.
People find having treatment from an experienced counsellor is another excellent route for those with anxiety and if possible it should be done in conjunction with acupuncture. Acupuncture often costs less than talking therapies such as CBT, although again, some individuals may choose to do both.
When you're feeling anxious, sit down and take a breath in through your nose and say to yourself "I" and then breathe our through your mouth and say to yourself "surrender". Surrendering is the opposite of anxiety.
As you can see, acupuncture can be a sensible choice for those with anxiety, and as a complementary medicine, it can be used effectively with other routes such as exercise, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or counselling.