Approximately 38 million Americans suffer with chronic anxiety or depression. One out of eight adults are currently taking antidepressant medications. While these medications can offer support and benefit on certain occasions, there are indeed many people that do not respond well to this form of treatment. This can be due to a number of factors including:
- Various side effects that outweigh the benefits of the medication
- A developed tolerance to the medication that causes the benefits to diminish
- Excessive sensitivity to the concentrated nature of these medications
- A belief system that suggests that the depression is not due to a biochemical imbalance, or that this imbalance is the result of a deeper spiritual issue.
Anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses worldwide. Many people suffer some form of anxiety occasionally but others cannot manage this natural response to a stressful situation. When a person experiences a highly stressful or threatening scenario, the mind can be overloaded and fail to develop ways of coping.
Although the symptoms can be as manageable as an ominous feeling in the pit of the stomach, some suffer much worse. Anxiety can trigger the following responses:
- Physical, such as an irregular heartbeat
- Cognitive, which can cause negative thoughts
- Behavioral, which may include uncharacteristic aggression or restlessness
- Emotional, such as fear
Depending on which of these symptoms are suffered, different anxiety disorders may be diagnosed. These include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Panic disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Managing severe anxiety can be tricky because it generally includes therapy, which might not provide results for months, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. What’s more, it can require medication, which can have serious side effects, says Ladan Eshkevari, PhD, CRNA, LAc, a certified acupuncturist, a physiologist, and the assistant director of the Nurse Anesthesia Program at the School of Nursing & Health Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Yet when acupuncture for anxiety is effective, symptoms lessen after the first few visits, and practitioners like Eshkevari are confident it attacks the problem at its roots.
Not just for pain, acupuncture is a natural way to treat anxiety. It works faster than therapy and keeps you drug-free.
Traditional Chinese medicine relates anxiety to an imbalance of the heart and kidney. Fire represents the heart and joy according to the five elements. The diagnosis is that too much heat in the heart will imbalance the interaction with the kidney (represented as water and fear). This will result in the water organ failing to contain the fire organ rising up to the mind, leading to anxiety. Acupuncture on points around the heart, kidney, spleen and ear are used to treat anxiety.
How Acupuncture for Anxiety Works
How does it work? Led by Eshkevari, researchers at Georgetown University used lab studies to demonstrate that acupuncture slows the body’s production of stress hormones.
Like blood in the circulatory system, Qi moves throughout the body via pathways called meridians. When factors like injury, stress, poor nutrition, or a change in environment disrupt the flow of Qi, health issues follow, according to the University of Miami Health System. By inserting needles at specific points in the body, acupuncturists restore the balance of Qi and the body’s overall health, University of Chicago Medicine reports.
It is estimated that approximately one in five people will experience clinical depression at least once in their lifetime. Although it is natural to feel sad and down at times, especially after experiencing loss, these slight effects can be managed with gradual lifestyle adjustments. Clinical depression, however, refers to a long-lasting and intense emotional, physical and cognitive state that greatly affects day-to-day life. Symptoms include:
- Loss of positive associations and sense of achievement (lack of interest in normally pleasurable activities)
- Negative thoughts (often worrying about the future)
- Irritability, agitation and exhaustion
- Changes in sleeping patterns (too much or too little)
- Hopelessness (feeling trapped or suicidal)
The causes of depression are known to be similar to the causes of anxiety. It is traditionally treated with antidepressant medication, psychological methods or a combination of both.
Depression is also considered to be a problem with circulating Qi around your body. Anxiety and depression remain two of the most common mental disorders worldwide. As further research continues, acupuncture and other forms of complementary therapies are gradually being proved to be legitimate treatments for anxiety, depression and other illnesses. Perhaps more important than anything for our health is varying our lifestyles by trying alternative therapies, including exercise, yoga and meditation. It is important, however, to always get a second opinion and consult a doctor any time complementary therapies are tried.
What are the side effects?
When it comes to trying acupuncture, you have nothing to lose. With a certified acupuncturist, the risks are almost nonexistent and are far outweighed by the potential benefits.
For more information about how acupuncture and other treatments can help you, please contact Board Certified Licensed Acupuncturist, Steve Drugan,B.S., L.Ac., at 614.218.6287 or click here. Taking new patients in and around Columbus, Ohio.