Clinically, anxiety is not the normal worries or concerns we experience every day. Anxiety is an uncontrolled, intense reaction to a stressful event, and it is extremely common. The mind becomes overloaded and fails to recognize the situation, and it is unable to cope appropriately. From ominous, unsettled feelings in the stomach to irregular heartbeat to uncharacteristic aggression or restlessness or fear, anxiety can interfere with its victim’s normal everyday functioning until the episode passes. Unfortunately, residual symptoms may persist, and severe symptoms can recur when a similar stressful situation is encountered.
There are recognizable varieties of anxiety attacks. These conditions are considered mental disorders and have been given the following identifying labels:
- Panic attack
- Agoraphobia ± history of panic disorder
- Panic disorder ± agoraphobia
- Specific phobia
- Social phobia
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Acute stress disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Anxiety disorder due to a medical condition
- Substance-induced anxiety disorder
- Anxiety disorder not otherwise specified
Difficulties Treating Anxiety
There are a variety of causes, which makes treating anxiety sometimes difficult. A multitude of treatments are available, each usually cited as a preferred specific treatment for a given syndrome. Adding to the difficulty are research results revealing that for some there is a heredity component to when and how their anxiety attacks begin.
Complicating the condition, a person’s personality, behavior or thinking style can cause them to be more susceptible to anxiety. Biochemical factors such as a chemical imbalance in the brain also have been proven to cause anxiety.
Psychotherapy, behavioral, and medicinal therapies, sometimes combined, are common therapeutic approaches. A cognitive-behavioral therapist often will suggest lifestyle and behavioral changes. Antidepressants and benzodiazepines may be prescribed. Most prescribed drugs often produce unpleasant to serious side effects. There are natural herbals that have a history of safe and effective use in cases of anxiety, but this approach should be under the care of a qualified herbalist or MD well versed in herbal therapies.
The Acupuncture Approach to Treating Anxiety
Acupuncture, as reported in the June, 2011 edition of CNS Neuroscience and Therapeutics, has been shown to be as effective as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). In controlled studies, Acupuncture has demonstrated its ability to reduce stress hormones (Journal of Endocrinology, March 2013).
In China, Korea, and Japan, where access to Acupuncture and Western medical approaches are equally available, most patients prefer Acupuncture to treat emotional, and psychological conditions, including anxiety, stress, depression, and insomnia. Patients report that Acupuncture is a less stressful treatment approach.
Because anxiety is such a complex condition with, perhaps, multiple interacting causes, it makes sense to consider beginning anxiety therapy with Acupuncture or to combining Acupuncture with a Western treatment approach.
Acupuncture for Anxiety by Nick Errington-Evans
Article first published online: 7 JUN 2011