Millions of people who suffer from anxiety are looking for natural ways to treat their anxiety and ask is acupuncture for anxiety? I get many calls to my Ridgewood, New Jersey Acupuncture and Chinese medicine office. Here are the most common questions about acupuncture for anxiety answered for you so you can get more understanding of this ancient therapy.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a method that uses thin, small needles that are inserted at strategic places on the body to relax the body and reduce tension and anxiety of the mind. Acupuncture is popular in the treatment of pain but more and more people are turning to acupuncture for treatment of anxiety, stress, depression, fatigue, and insomnia.
Anxiety patients have specific symptoms ranging from severe panic attacks, racing thoughts, palpitations, sweating, sleeping disturbance, weakness and lethargy, repetitive actions or thoughts, feelings of overwhelm and feeling withdrawn from life. These symptoms obviously affect your ability to function well, enjoy things, and interact with people socially and in work situations. Anxiety has a huge negative impact on the quality of your life.
Acupuncture for Anxiety Consultation and Evaluation -Your First Step
During a consultation and evaluation, it is important to understand the extent and nature of your symptoms. You will go over your symptoms of anxiety as well as get asked questions about other aspects of your health. This helps the acupuncturist to determine if acupuncture for anxiety is appropriate for your case. Contrary to popular belief, it is not just about placing the needles in the body! To really get the fullest benefit out of acupuncture, the Chinese medicine practitioner looks to find the underlying cause of the problem. These causes may be quite different than what your psychiatrist or mental health doctor look at. He or she will then use that information and make a tailored treatment that fits those needs.
During the first visits the practitioner will go over questions such as how often do you need acupuncture for anxiety?, and how long does acupuncture take to work for anxiety?
Patterns of Disharmony
According to Chinese medicine, the cause of anxiety is due to an organ system that not functioning optimally. It is critical for a practitioner to take the time to define what the cause of the anxiety is. Finding the cause of anxiety is important because then practitioners can treat both the symptoms of anxiety and eliminate the cause of it as well. So many people are just taking their anti-anxiety medications, which can be so life-saving for severely anxious patients. But you are never told that you can be treated so that your body’s functioning can be restored. I never advocate stopping your medication, but my aim is to restore your body back to near normal function, so the root of the problem is addressed. Some patients will stay on their medications, while others will be able to reduce or even eliminate them. Acupuncturists who do the deeper work, look to collect a lot of information from you to establish what your “pattern of disharmony” is. Finding the pattern of disharmony will allow you to go further in your treatments.
Frequency of Acupuncture for Anxiety
Frequency matters! Particularly in the beginning stage of treatment when symptoms are not stable, getting more acupuncture helps. As you respond, less treatments are needed. The acupuncturist will go over a schedule of care that he or she deems best, based upon your specific condition and symptoms.
Momentum Effects with Treatments
Many people with anxiety have tried so many things to tame their anxiety. Following a regimen of acupuncture treatments will reduce the anxiety so that the symptoms that you get become less and less and reduce in severity and frequency. There is a momentum effect with acupuncture that has to be experienced to be felt.
Goal of Treatment for Acupuncture for Anxiety:
The initial goal of acupuncture for anxiety is aimed at reducing the severity and frequency of your symptoms. Longer term goals are reducing the sensitivity of the nervous system, so it is not triggered a quickly by stressful events. Better quality of emotional health, better sleep, improved better and elimination, improved energy, reduction of muscle tension is all added benefits in the long-term goals of treatment. Acupuncture can help retrain the body in the relaxation response so that your body can remain in more relaxed state.
Differing Patient Goals
Some patients want to just cope with their existing symptoms. Others want to work to get at the cause of their anxiety so they can reduce or even eliminate their current anti-anxiety medications. It is important not to force one agenda over the other. This is important to establish goals that are acceptable to both patient and practitioner. These short-term and long-term goals should be agreed upon before treatment is started. Acupuncturists who do the deeper work look to collect a lot of information from you to establish what your pattern of disharmony is.
Are Acupuncture Treatments Painful?
Acupuncture treatments themselves are rarely painful. The treatments themselves can be profoundly relaxing. Most people envision needing to be a very painful event, but with the use of acupuncture needles, they are so small, so you would feel no more than a little pinch or slight pain on insertion. It is no more than the sensation of eyebrow waxing or threading at its most intense. Once the needles are inserted, there is no painful sensations. Patients usually drift into a relaxation state within ten to fifteen minutes after needles are in place.
Secondly, the initial insertion of the needle can hold the most painful reaction that quickly subside. Compared to an epidural shot, birthing, spinal tap or even a tattooing, acupuncture needling is comparatively painless.
You may feel other feelings such as tingling, warmth, numbness like sensations, but these are positive signs and show that the needles are signaling the body properly. These sensations do not last after the needles are removed and are temporary in nature. Once patients learn the difference between “pain” and “other sensations”, the fear of acupuncture is eliminated and treatments provoke little to no fear.
Acupuncture Sensitive Patients
Some of you fall into a very small category called acupuncture sensitive patients. A very small percentage of patients are very sensitive to any stimuli and sometimes report “after each acupuncture treatment my symptoms come back worse”. For acupuncture sensitive patients, acupuncture treatments need to be adjusted so that the sessions are easier to accept. This can be done, but it requires good communication between the patient and the practitioner. Symptoms will get less severe not worse.
Where do you Put Acupuncture Needles for Anxiety?
Patients ask “Where do you put acupuncture needles for anxiety”? The arrangement of the needles is important because once the underlying cause of the anxiety is found, the practitioner arranges needles that have a signaling effect on the body. Many body points target the organ imbalance found in the “pattern of disharmony”. Other points help treat the symptoms. Needles in the head, or the ear, or the chest may be used to help calm the anxiety symptoms.
Some patients have asked “After acupuncture treatments my symptoms come back”.
During the initial phase of care, symptoms are unstable. People will feel their symptoms of anxiety less and less as treatment progresses. The key is to gain momentum with treatments so the frequency and severity of symptoms reduce. As you respond and go through the stabilization phase of treatments, you will notice that the symptoms do not return as fast or as much and you feel more in control of your mental state.
Chinese Herbs for Anxiety
Chinese herbs for anxiety can be a great help to those suffering from anxiety. To best determine if Chinese herbs can be helpful, the examination is critical in pin-point the exact cause of anxiety in your body, and cross checking over a list of your medications, going over other symptoms that may be contra-indicated for patients taking medication. Finally, motivation to get better and willingness to try is an important factor as well. So many people are taking many supplements for anxiety, with limited effects. Treating anxiety cannot just be aimed at symptoms but must get to the underlying cause of the problem. Chinese herbs are a more educated and systematic treatment of anxiety, because it is not just throwing more supplements at a problem and hoping that it “sticks”. As you get better, herbal combinations are reformulated to bring you out of the symptomatic stage and get to the root cause of the problem. Herbs are chosen according to the pattern of disharmony that is discovered. If you think that herbs are too “out there”, for practicality’s sake, adding in the herbs to your acupuncture treatments helps to speed up your results. Chinese herbs for anxiety must be done by a trained practitioner who has the knowledge and experience to individualize formulations for each patient to get the best effects.
Supportive Acupuncture Practitioner
Finding a supportive acupuncture practitioner in treatment of your anxiety is also key in acupuncture for anxiety. You need to like that practitioner. You need to be able to communicate well with that practitioner. You need to confide in that practitioner, and you need to tell the practitioner how your treatments are progressing, honestly. A good practitioner listens to what you say and works to diligently work to get you in a better state. A good practitioner will motivate you to make simple changes in your life to get better results. It is not simply the placement of needles but the whole frame work that is created for you to feel supported so you can get better.
A practitioner will also offer you guidance in the area of diet for anxiety, acupressure for anxiety, and other relaxation techniques for anxiety.
Are you looking for help with your anxiety? Why not call to see if acupuncture can be helpful to you. My name is Joshua Goldstein, and am an acupuncturist and Chinese herbal medicine practitioner with 21 years of experience. Are you looking for anxiety relief? Call now to get a consultation to see if acupuncture and or Chinese medicine is an option for you. Call me at 201-444-7150 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org My office located in Ridgewood NJ, in the heart of Bergen County NJ.
Joshua Goldstein Licensed Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist