Treating anxiety naturally is important. Anxiety is an inability to cope with stress and control your fear response, and so ideally you want to try to find a way to regain control of that fear response without the use of any medications or supplements.
Acupressure represents a popular anxiety treatment, and an alternative to acupuncture that many people find causes them distress. But how effective is acupressure, and how is it performed?
Will Acupressure Cure Your Anxiety?
Acupressure works for some but not others. Your symptoms may play a significant role. Take my free 7 minute anxiety test to find alternative solutions to your anxiety symptoms.
Natural Anxiety Treatments
Acupressure is one of many anxiety treatments available that do not involve the use of drugs. But anxiety treatments have one fairly common rule: the easier they are, the less likely they are to work. Don't forget that my anxiety test will teach you even more.
Acupressure is a fascinating idea. It's the idea that you put pressure on the same points that are used with needles in acupuncture in order to get the same effect to your mind and spirit.
Self-acupressure is fairly common, although many acupressure experts recommend seeing a specialist. Like acupuncture, acupressure finds the specific points on your body that are believed to be related to Qi, blood, and so on. By pressing on those points with the thumb, Qi is restored to the body and provides you with considerable relief.
Acupressure points may differ between acupressurists, and are not quite the same as acupuncture points. While acupuncturists use small points like HE3, P6, and other denominations that stand for specific areas of the body, acupressure tends to be broader:
- The wrist
- The foot
- The forehead
- The ears
Although some experts do still use the acupuncture points (called medians). It depends on where you go, and if you're expected to perform these techniques yourself.
Acupressure's Effect on Anxiety
Acupressure has essentially no research evidence, much like acupuncture. Studies on acupuncture have found that it is better than placebo, but scientists believed it was because acupuncture utilizes a stronger placebo technique, due to the needles and the way the body feels after pain.
To test this, they took needles and stuck them in random places on the body (rather than the specific points that acupuncturists use) and found that people were "cured" just as often as they were with acupuncture. Since acupressure is essentially the same technique except even less exact, it is unlikely that it has much of an effect.
However, there are still many reasons that acupressure may be worth trying:
- It's Fun Acupressure is an interesting activity that is believed to improve your anxiety levels. Whether the research confirms that or not isn't as important. Sometimes doing something interesting to try to combat anxiety, like acupressure, is valuable just for the experience and to see how you feel after it.
- It's Harmless The only downside to choosing to try acupressure is if you depend on it as your only treatment. As long as you're willing to find a new treatment when/if acupressure doesn't work, there's no real harm in trying it out for yourself. Perhaps it works, perhaps it doesn't, but if it works for you with no side effects then the only real downside is your time.
- People Believe in It Many people believe in a lot of things that don't work. But once again, when you're talking about something that is guaranteed to be harmless, then perhaps there is reason to give it a shot.
- Doing Something is Important Acupressure is still doing something about your anxiety, and the act of doing something for your mental health is still very important. Simply making sure that you're willing to get out there and try something is important, because it makes sure that your mind is focused on curing your anxiety forever.
There are downsides to depending on unproven treatments. The main downside is simply the time wasted on something that doesn't work, and the tendency for people to quit when enough treatments fail.
If you choose to do acupressure as an anxiety treatment, make sure that you don't fall into the trap of forgetting about your anxiety or becoming frustrated if it doesn't work for you. If you're going to use acupressure, do it for fun in addition to some other type of treatment that is more likely to work.
I've helped many people cure their anxiety, including those that have tried acupressure. Take my free 7 minute anxiety test to get your free anxiety profile and learn more about what it takes to get anxiety relief.
Kober, Alexander, et al. Auricular acupressure as a treatment for anxiety in prehospital transport settings . Anesthesiology 98.6 (2003): 1328-1332.
Agarwal, A., et al. Acupressure for prevention of pre-operative anxiety: a prospective, randomised, placebo controlled study . Anaesthesia 60.10 (2005): 978-981.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.