Do you find yourself struggling with anxiety? Do the medications usually prescribed for anxiety have you experiencing side effects that you would rather avoid? Are you looking or an alternative treatment option, and want to know if acupuncture is be the right treatment choice for you?
This this article we will be exploring the impact acupuncture can have on anxiety, examining if acupuncture works for anxiety, which points, are used for anxiety and more — all so you can gain knowledge, and prepare yourself for deciding if acupuncture is a treatment you would like to use to improve your health, wellness, and reduce your level of anxiety.
Acupuncture for Anxiety
Acupuncture, when used to treat anxiety, can be a useful natural and holistic treatment option. According to this one study, which used rats not human participants, found that acupuncture impacts two pathways in the brain:
These two pathways, when elevated have been connected to chronic stress and increase the possibility of a person developing or experiencing anxiety.
The two pathways were documented as being blocked during and from acupuncture treatment. The study concluded that the blockage of these two pathways in the brain are most likely one of the mechanisms that lead to acupuncture to help with both stress and anxiety.
Does Acupuncture Work for Anxiety?
Thoughts on the effectiveness of acupuncture for anxiety and research the topic have shifted and changed as more studies have been conducted. For example, in 2010 this one study found that because most trials and research on if acupuncture for anxiety works had used a small sample size for participants — assessing the whether or not acupuncture is effective and works for anxiety was difficult and inconclusive.
Fast forward by five years to 2015. This one randomized controlled trial concluded that acupuncture is a promising treatment option for people who live with anxiety and:
Are seeking alternative treatment options outside of medication.
Are patients who have shown to be resistant to other forms of treatment.
Whose anxiety symptoms are severe.
How Long Does it Take for Acupuncture to Work for Anxiety?
Many people want to know, how long before acupuncture starts to work for anxiety? Some may start to see a change as soon as one session. This one study found the answers to the following two questions:
How Long Does it Take for Acupuncture to Work for Anxiety?
How many sessions of acupuncture are needed for anxiety?
What the study found was:
When participants received weekly treatments for ten weeks for a minimum of half an hour of treatment per session, participants experienced a reduction in their overall level of anxiety that improved their quality of living. The really good news? The reduction of anxiety level and symptoms from the ten weekly acupuncture treatments were still experienced at a ten-week follow-up after the study.
Does that mean that you will need ten weekly sessions? Or might you need less or more acupuncture sessions? Always remember as you work toward your own personal health and wellness goals — all treatments including acupuncture may lead to a different number of sessions needed to obtain the results that you are looking aiming for. Why? Because each person is different and so is their body.
Is Maintenance Acupuncture Treatments Needed?
So, if anxiety has been documented as being minimized through ten weekly sessions of acupuncture, are maintenance treatments needed? Probably. And here is why, once you have seen an improvement in your anxiety levels, maintaining acupuncture treatments by spreading them out to bi-weekly or even once a month may help improve your chances of staying in a zone where being on top of your anxiety levels is not so hard or challenging.
Acupuncture Points for Anxiety
Some people wonder, where are the acupuncture points for anxiety? There are many different acupuncture points throughout the body—some say there are over 2,000 acupuncture points. According to this one study the following 12 acupuncture points have been documented as being beneficial for anxiety. Here is a list of those twelve acupuncture points:
Master of Heart 6 (MH6)
Individualized Acupuncture Treatment
The acupuncture points from the study, above are twelve that were studied and found to be beneficial for anxiety. Interestingly, these twelve points were also found to be beneficial for treating depression.
There are however other acupuncture points that are used for anxiety including:
Governing Vessel 24 (GV24)
Pericardium 6 (PC6)
Governing Vessel 11 (G11)
Why are these suggested and often used points used for acupuncture different than the ones used in the study?
Acupuncture is an individualized treatment. The acupuncture points are chosen are based on multiple pieces of information:
Answers to questions posed by an acupuncturist — questions about your health
Acupuncturists gain information for needle placement and individualized treatment through these three avenues. For more information on what to expect during acupuncture, read: What is Acupuncture Treatment Like?
What Does Acupuncture Cost for Anxiety?
The average cost per an acupuncture session can range from $75-$160. Depending on the frequency of treatment you find best meets your needs, you may find yourself spending $280 to $1200 for weekly or bi-weekly acupuncture treatment for anxiety.
Don’t think you can afford a fee out of pocket? You can always look for acupuncturists who offer discounts or packages.
For more information, read: How Much Does Acupuncture Cost?
What Other Natural Treatments can I Try for Anxiety?
Not sure if acupuncture is the best choice for you? But still looking for a natural treatment option for anxiety? Here are five other holistic treatments to choose from:
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Errington-Evans, N. (2015). Randomised Controlled Trial on the Use of Acupuncture in Adults with Chronic, Non-Responding Anxiety Symptoms. Acupuncture in Medicine, 33(2), 98-102. doi:10.1136/acupmed-2014-010524. Retrieved February 8, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25595195
Eshkevari, L., Permaul, E., & Mulroney, S. E. (2013). Acupuncture blocks cold stress-induced increases in the hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal axis in the rat. Journal of Endocrinology, 217(1), 95-104. doi:10.1530/joe-12-0404 Retrieved February 8, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23386059
Pilkington, K. (2010). Anxiety, depression and acupuncture: A review of the clinical research. Autonomic Neuroscience, 157(1-2), 91-95. doi:10.1016/j.autneu.2010.04.002. Retrieved February 8, 2019, from https://www.autonomicneuroscience.com/article/S1566-0702(10)00071-8/fulltext
Wang, T., Deng, R., Tan, J. Y., & Guan, F. G. (2016). Acupoints Stimulation for Anxiety and Depression in Cancer Patients: A Quantitative Synthesis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2016, 5645632.Retrieved February 6, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4828553/