Chronic stress and anxiety are becoming a public health crisis in the United States, with 46%  of individuals reporting that they have high stress. Current concerns about the pandemic and how it may shape school and work-life are pushing levels of stress even higher for most individuals. The use of anti-anxiety medication in early to mid-2020 increased by over 34%.

While some individuals are turning to medications, many others would prefer a different approach to help manage their stress, anxiety, and even panic disorders. Acupuncture is a proven way to significantly reduce anxiety and stress as well as improve depression. And acupuncture patients don’t suffer from the risk of harmful side effects that may come with taking pharmaceuticals.

How It Works

Acupuncture works by inserting fine needles into certain identified acupuncture points that run throughout the body. This process stimulates the central nervous system, allowing it to release natural bodily chemicals that influence the way a person feels pain, stress, and anxiety. Acupuncture has long been a traditional component of Asian medicine, where it is viewed as a procedure that can help to restore and balance the “qi,” or vital energy, of an individual to optimize their physiological and mental performance.

Direct effects of acupuncture that influence responses to stress include:

  • Activation of a person’s natural pain-relief system
  • Stimulation of electromagnetic signals
  • Stimulation of the hypothalamus and pituitary gland
  • Altering neurotransmitters that positively influence brain chemistry – this response works by deactivating parts of the brain and decreasing neuronal activity to shut down stress regions in the brain.

Why it Works

Stress, anxiety, and panic disorders arise due to external circumstances that many of us feel are beyond our control. This response sets off a chain of other biological processes that compound feelings of stress and anxiety. Acupuncture provides a way to take back control of the physiological responses that humans have to stress and restore balance to your mental well-being.

While prescriptions can also alleviate stress and anxiety, they sometimes come with harmful side effects, such as headaches and confusion. And while counseling is another great way to deal with stress and anxiety, it often takes time to go through multiple sessions before any progress is made.

Acupuncture has very few side effects – the worst of which is typically bruising at the needle insertion site and mild dizziness – and many people feel the difference after the very first session. For some individuals, acupuncture can naturally regulate the body’s chemicals to alleviate the burden of stress and anxiety, allowing them to avoid prescription medications altogether. And many acupuncture patients report that they sleep better and have a better feeling of overall wellness – both of these elements are crucial in long-term self-care and managing stress and anxiety.

Creating Balance for Each Individual

Unlike pharmaceuticals, acupuncture treatments are also tailored to the unique needs of patients. Individuals respond differently to stress and anxiety and may exhibit very different symptoms accordingly. Acupuncture treatments differ from patient to patient to treat the specific symptoms that each unique individual is feeling. It’s not a one-size-fits-all treatment, but one that is tailored to meet the unique needs of each person, boosting the treatment’s likelihood of being successful.

And while some people fear that acupuncture is painful due to the insertion of needles, most patients find the therapy to be incredibly calming and relaxing – so much so that many patients fall asleep during the session.

Acupuncture therapy has a direct effect on our body’s ability to manage stress. However, there are many other health benefits gained through acupuncture that help to maintain physical and mental well-being, which is also beneficial in maintaining low stress and anxiety levels.

These benefits include:

  • Increased energy
  • Better sleep
  • Lower levels of pain
  • Fewer migraines and headaches
  • Alleviation of allergy symptoms
  • Regulate immune system
  • Weight management and normalization
  • Increased performance of the digestive system

The list of acupuncture benefits is long, but it’s also important to remember that each person will respond to the treatments differently. It may take several sessions before you notice any results. And, like any stress and anxiety therapy, the results are enhanced when combined with other strategies that promote overall wellness, such as eating right and nutritious diet, getting plenty of exercises, and sleeping sufficiently. If you are currently feeling overstressed and anxious or if you are exploring ways to optimize your well-being, you should take this opportunity to discuss the benefits of acupuncture with a trusted and reputable practitioner.