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Does Acupuncture Help With Anxiety Problems?

There are many types of alternative anxiety treatments. These treatments are used to help cure anxiety without the long term expenses of therapy or side effects of modern medicine. One of the most popular and well known alternative treatments is acupuncture. People use acupuncture for anxiety treatment and prevention, and many believe that it is one of the single most effective ways to cure your anxiety forever.

But does acupuncture work? The answer is a little unclear. This article will explore acupuncture as an anxiety treatment, and whether or not you should consider it as an alternative to therapy.

How Severe is Your Anxiety?

Acupuncture is an incredible treatment. But it is best for those with mild to moderate anxiety. If you haven't yet take our free 7 minute anxiety test, make sure you take the test soon to score your severity, compare it to others, and learn more about treatments.

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Acupuncture for Anxiety

The realities of treating anxiety are that different people require different treatments, even when suffering from the same type of anxiety. That's because different people have different personalities, different needs, and of course, different symptoms. That's why to get a personalized treatment, take my free 7 minute anxiety test now.

Research is mixed on the benefits of acupuncture. Born from centuries of Chinese history, acupuncture is based on the principle of qi (also spelled "Chi" or "?"), Yin and Yang, elemental theory and more. These are corrected by placing sterilized needles at very specific points in the body. While the components are much more complex, acupuncturists believe that by balancing qi correctly throughout the body (including "circulating the blood," warming, etc.), and responding to diagnoses using these acupuncture points has the potential to provide a safe and effective cure.

Does Acupuncture Work?

Unfortunately, acupuncture is considered in many ways to be an "alternative" medicine, and as such, very little research is designed to look at the core principles of acupuncture and measure them in a way that can confirm or deny its benefits. Most large studies show that acupuncture isn't an effective treatment for any type of health issue, and yet with millions of people swearing to the success of acupuncture, more studies are needed.

So it's possible that acupuncture is effective, and equally possible that it is not. It's a treatment that you should choose to do only when you have carefully considered other treatments and are confident in its benefits. It's absolutely possible that acupuncture will provide you with exactly the relief you need. However, it's also important to keep an open mind to other treatments. If acupuncture doesn't appear to be working for you, move on to something else. Even if acupuncture is as effective as most believe, it will not work for everyone.

The Value of Acupuncture for Anxiety

Assuming that acupuncture is effective, however, it represents a very valuable anxiety treatment. That's because acupuncture provides three separate benefits that are important to those living with anxiety:

  • Acupuncture is immediate.
  • Acupuncture reduces reinforcement.
  • Acupuncture deals with other issues.

Acupuncture is designed to be an immediate treatment. While not every acupuncture session provides complete and full relief right away, as soon as you leave the acupuncturist (and in some cases the next morning), much of your anxiety should be diminished. Compare this to long term treatments that generally require you to work on your anxiety a little at a time over a long period of time. For those with severe anxiety, that can be advantageous.

Reinforcement is also a serious problem for those with anxiety, especially panic attacks. With panic attacks, a person's fear of getting a panic attack actually causes a panic attack, which of course confirms the fear and makes it more likely to happen again in the future. Acupuncture, if effective, will reduce these thought processes completely, which in turn should reduce the potential for your anxieties to reinforce themselves.

Finally, while anxiety is a standalone condition, it doesn't create itself. Often you have other issues in your life that can cause you some anxiety or contribute to the severity of your anxiety symptoms. Acupuncture should help with those as well. For example, you may find that you become more anxious or on edge after you feel like your heartbeat has increased. Acupuncture could then help.

Acupuncture is Not a Uniform Treatment

Interestingly, not all acupuncturists subscribe to the same beliefs about which acupuncture points are best for anxiety. Each has received their own training in the past, and experts can disagree about which points need to be hit in order to provide the best benefits. For panic attacks, acupuncturists may use the following points:

  • HT 7
  • LV 3
  • UB 15
  • SP 10
  • LI 4

But again, this depends on what the individual acupuncturist feels are best to meet your needs. They may use all or none of these points depending on their beliefs and training. They may also target symptoms, rather than conditions, depending on what they feel will work best for your needs.

Choosing Acupuncture For Anxiety

Research doesn't confirm acupuncture's claims, but it doesn't deny it. Those that believe in the power of Chinese medicine or the anecdotal evidence that support acupuncture as an anxiety treatment may want to give it a try. Acupuncture has centuries of support in the East, and many believe it's one of the most powerful ways to fight not only anxiety, but other health issues as well.

At the same time, never assume if a treatment doesn't work that you should give up. You may find that many treatments are not as effective as you'd like until you find the one that is.

I've helped many people that decided to use something other than acupuncture cure their anxiety, and to do so I have them take my free 7 minute anxiety test - a symptoms questionnaire that provides more comprehensive treatment choices.

If you haven't yet, click here to take the test.

Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.

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