A 2021 study indicates that one in four (25%) Canadians aged 18 and older screened positive for symptoms of depression, anxiety, or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The numbers are alarming, the age of subjects is lower than ever before. This article weighs in on the benefits, efficacy, and mechanism of anxiety acupuncture.
Managing anxiety with the options presented by conventional medicine can be challenging. On one hand, you get immediate relief from anxiety via pharmaceuticals, on the other hand, long-term use of pharmaceuticals will disrupt neurotransmitter activity.
How does TCM see Anxiety?
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is increasingly becoming a popular alternative treatment for anxiety. Acupuncture for anxiety disorders is a safe long-term solution with very good results. The mechanics of Anxiety in TCM involve the spirit – what we refer to as Shen. Ideal shen means a person has a vibrant healthy spirit and disturbed Shen presents with mental illness. The yin, essence, and blood are the root of shen. Any imbalance in those will affect the shen. Chinese medicine aims to balance and nourish these aspects to calm the shen and in doing so, addresses the root of the problem. This is something that western medicine is just not equipped to address.
Treatment and self-help
A typical treatment involves doing an initial assessment to understand the root cause of the imbalance and coming up with a custom treatment plan. The initial assessment includes an acupuncture session where we insert these hair-thin needles on specific points. Patients undergoing acupuncture for anxiety report a deep sense of calm, better sleep quality, and mood-related symptoms following treatments. With each session, symptoms reduce further and further. Here are a few things you can do at home to prolong the benefits in-between sessions.
- Acupressure on certain points that are known to instantly help you feel grounded. Excellent self-help at home.
- Ear seeds are tiny metallic or plant-based pellets that can be safely taped on your ear lobe. Massaging them activates your parasympathetic nervous system.
- Breathing exercises that connect you to the present. Breathwork is powerful. Simple exercises like 5-minute nostril breathing are good enough to reset the nervous system.
- Movement is key. A few minutes of simple yin exercises like qigong or yoga stimulate your qi to improve circulation and blood flow to the head.
- Diet is just as important. Fuel up on plant-based meals and stay hydrated for good gut function. Remember the gut microbiome influences mental health.
At White Birch, we also work with patients to help limit or stop drug use. We also employ herbal remedies that keep frayed nerves at bay. If you haven’t tried acupuncture for anxiety, we suggest adding it to your current regimen. It not just treats the symptoms but also prevents them at the root.