Feeling Anxious? Acupuncture Can Help

Feeling Anxious? Acupuncture Can Help

Anxiety is on the rise
Life as we know it has been disrupted and many people who have never experienced anxiety before are finding themselves feeling anxious now. Clinically, we’ve seen an influx of both adults and adolescents whose anxiety issues have been triggered by COVID-19, the upcoming election and uncertainties relating to school and work. Even before the pandemic, anxiety disorders were the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, equating to approximately 3.1% of the U.S. population.1 Women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety than men.

Symptoms of anxiety are broad and can include fear, apprehension, nervousness, restlessness, worry, overthinking, indecisiveness and difficulty concentrating. Physically, anxiety can manifest as palpitations, rapid breathing, increased or heavy sweating, muscle twitching, weakness, fatigue, difficulty focusing, irritability, insomnia and even as digestive issues such as gas, constipation or diarrhea.

Acupuncture can help relieve anxiety
The most common treatments for anxiety are talk therapy and prescription medication, but these can have limited efficacy and medications often cause adverse side effects. If left untreated, anxiety can lead to more serious health problems. Fortunately, acupuncture, can be quite effective at treating anxiety without significant adverse side effects.

When the body experiences anxiety, the sympathetic “fight or flight” part of the nervous system is triggered. Acupuncture can calm this response by causing the body to release neurotransmitters like serotonin that help regulate mood, as well as endorphins, the body’s natural “feel good” stress-fighting hormones.

A 2018 systematic review of clinical research suggests there is, “good scientific evidence encouraging acupuncture therapy to treat anxiety disorders as it yields effective outcomes, with fewer side effects than conventional treatment.”2

“Another study from 2015, found that acupuncture improved symptoms in people with anxiety that didn’t respond to other treatments, including psychotherapy and medication. Participants received ten, 30-minute sessions of acupuncture over the course of 12 weeks and experienced a significant reduction in their anxiety, even 10 weeks after treatment.”3

Of course, proper diet and daily exercise can help with anxiety, too. Foods containing the amino acid tryptophan (turkey, eggs, meat) are great because the body converts tryptophan to serotonin. Avocados are filled with B6 and also help the body produce serotonin. Foods rich in Vitamin C, like blueberries, have been shown to help reduce anxiety and are filled with protective antioxidants. Fish, such as salmon and tuna, nuts, seeds and natural plant oils with omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown in clinical studies to reduce symptoms of anxiety.4

If you’re feeling more on edge or are having difficulties coping and are finding that diet and exercise aren’t enough, consider acupuncture. A typical acupuncture treatment lasts between 30-45 minutes and can help calm your mind, improve sleep, reduce symptoms of anxiety and improve your overall mood and feeling of well-being. Call 973.939.3868 today to set up a consultation with Dr. Kaplan.

1. (2020). Retrieved from https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics
2. Amorim D, Amado J, Brito I, et al. Acupuncture and electroacupuncture for anxiety disorders: A systematic review of the clinical research. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2018;31:31-37. doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2018.01.008
3. Watson, K. (2018). Can Acupuncture Help with Anxiety. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/acupuncture-for-anxiety#benefits
4. (2018). Omega-3 fatty acids may help ease anxiety symptoms. Retrieved from https://www.healio.com/news/psychiatry/20180914/omega3-fatty-acids-may-help-ease-anxiety-symptoms

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