Acupuncture for Anxiety & Depression

Acupuncture for Anxiety & Depression

Acupuncture is well-known for its effectiveness for pain conditions, but it is also an excellent therapeutic tool for reducing stress and treating generalized anxiety or depression.
Acupuncture is an advanced holistic treatment based on the concepts of Chinese Medicine, which was developed by skilled clinicians over thousands of years who discovered that certain points on the body have an effect on the physical and emotional state of the patient. These acupuncture points are used to regulate the body’s physiological function and stabilize imbalances in the energetic and physical aspects of the body.
Acupuncture treatment has an effect on the body across many different levels, including the function of the organ systems, cellular communication, and the signals between the brain and the nervous system. Clinical research has shown that acupuncture affects the brain and regulates the signals sent between neurons. It can balance and regulate the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, which are responsible for the “fight or flight” response to stressful situations and the “rest and digest” response which allows for relaxation and optimal function of the organs. Imbalances between these systems can cause a person to feel like they’re in a constant state of alertness or anxiety even though there is no actual danger in their environment. This indicates that the sympathetic nervous system is overactive. Since acupuncture is effective for calming the nervous system, it reduces the physiological symptoms that accompany anxiety and panic attacks.
Acupuncture also has an effect on the endocrine system, which regulates the hormones in the body. This is useful for treating a wide array of conditions including menopause, fertility issues, thyroid dysfunction, and more. When applied to the treatment of anxiety, the regulation of the endocrine system allows the acupuncturist to slow the production of stress hormones in the body such as cortisol. This effect was confirmed by a clinical research study by Eshkevari at Georgetown University, published in the April 2013 Journal of Endocrinology.
 Furthermore, acupuncturists can help to re-balance the neurotransmitters in the brain such as serotonin, dopamine, and GABA to improve the mood, reduce anxiety, regulate appetite, harmonize sleep patterns, and more. Natural medicine is an important part of this treatment, and our Hendersonville acupuncture clinic offers safe and effective supplements that support the neurotransmitter system on a daily basis to improve your outcomes and help you reach your treatment goals more quickly.
So far we have covered the effects of acupuncture for anxiety from a western medical perspective, but many patients are also interested in understanding the eastern roots of this treatment system. This medical paradigm was developed thousands of years ago, at a time when people looked at nature to understand the workings of the human body. The Five Element theory is a way of understanding the qualities of natural phenomena and the relationships that connect them, including connections and correspondences between elements of nature, the body’s physiological mechanisms, and psycho-emotional patterns.
According to the Five Element philosophical system, each category of emotion is related to a certain organ in the body, and can, therefore, be understood in terms of balance or imbalance in that organ system. See below for Five Element correspondences that show the relationship between organ systems, emotions, and physical symptoms.
 
Element
Organs
Emotions when imbalanced
Emotions when balanced
Physical Symptoms when imbalanced
Wood
Liver, Gallbladder
Anger, frustration, irritability, resentment, indecisiveness, judgment, pride
Flexibility, patience, creative vision
Headaches, jaw pain, visual disturbances, rib pain, muscular pain
Fire
Heart, Small Intestine
Anxiety, shyness, feeling of abandonment, lacking joy
Joyful, connected, optimistic, enthusiastic
Palpitations, insomnia, mouth sores, hot flashes, frequent UTI
Earth
Spleen, Stomach
Worry, overthinking, brooding, obsessiveness, neediness
Nurturing, empathy, generosity, self-confidence
Bloating, loose stools, heaviness or achiness of legs and muscles, insomnia
Metal
Lung, Large Intestine
Grief, sadness, vanity, perfectionism
Inspiration, spiritual connection, worthy
Shortness of breath, skin problems, lack of energy, fatigue
Water
Kidney, Bladder
Fear, withdrawn, hypervigilant, paranoia
Wisdom, depth, courageous, awareness
Achy low back and knees, ringing in the ears, frequent urination
Knowing the relationships between the emotions and the physical body helps the acupuncturist pinpoint the underlying imbalances that give rise to your symptoms. When treating from a Five Element perspective, the acupuncturist chooses acupoints along the pathway of the organ system that is out of balance. Choosing the correct points allows the treatment of the emotional manifestation at the same time as the physical symptom.
This allows for a customized treatment that takes into account your whole self. This is why we use the term holistic health care, because we are considering the whole system including physical, mental, and emotional health as interdependent factors that cannot be separated. This means that your individualized acupuncture treatment can address a multitude of symptoms at once, because it treats the underlying disharmony in the organ system instead of just numbing or masking the emotional manifestation of that disharmony. The result is longer-lasting results that create a greater sense of wellbeing and feeling comfortable and settled in your mind and body.
As we have seen, there are many ways at looking at how acupuncture works for the treatment of anxiety, depression, or emotional imbalance. Whether you consider the scientific perspective of regulating the nervous system and endocrine system, or whether you delve into the philosophical origins of the mind-body connection, the primary point is that the treatment has reliable and measurable effectiveness. Acupuncture works for treating anxiety and reducing stress, and it can work for you!
Now you know—acupuncture is for more than just pain! Talk to your Acu-Na acupuncturist about how you can support your digestive system using natural medicine and acupuncture for your optimal wellness. Call us at 828-974-7058
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