Symptoms of anxiety have become increasingly common and affect most people at some point in their life. It refers to over-worrying, which becomes difficult to control and can impact on day to day life. Common symptoms of anxiety can include:
As well as generalised anxiety, it can also be described further into anxiety disorders such as, panic disorder, phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and post traumatic stress disorder (NICE 2007). These can become chronic and cause considerable distress and disability; if left untreated, make life very difficult. As well as emotional symptoms such as worry, disturbed sleep, irritability and poor concentration, anxiety can cause physical symptoms such as sweating, nausea, diarrhoea, dry mouth, palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, cold hands, muscle tension and aches, trembling and twitching. Also, the symptoms of many physical conditions can become worse with stress, for example, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines and tension headaches, and back pain.
How can Acupuncture help? In general, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of specific neurochemical messenger molecules (these work by making the brain work in a certain way). The resulting biochemical changes affect how the body systems work, therefore promoting physical and emotional well-being.
Research has shown that acupuncture treatment may specifically benefit anxiety disorders and symptoms of anxiety by:
Activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the part of the nervous system responsible for "rest and digest", hence initiating the relaxation response. This can explain why so many people find acupuncture treatment instantly relaxing.
Acting on areas of the brain known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promoting relaxation and deactivating the 'analytical' brain, which is responsible for anxiety and worry.
Regulating levels of neurotransmitters (or their modulators) and hormones such as serotonin, noradrenaline, dopamine, GABA, neuropeptide Y and ACTH; hence altering the brain's mood chemistry to help to combat negative affective states.
Reversing inflammation that is associated with anxiety
Reversing stress-induced changes in behaviour and biochemistry
When will I feel less anxious?
Most patients generally feel like their symptoms have improved within a few sessions. Some people feel much better after just a few but others may take longer, it can all depend on how they respond to treatment, the severity of anxiety they are experiencing and the underlying physical or emotional causes.
How patients felt after Acupuncture :
"I had been feeling extremely anxious having returned to work after having a baby and my husband had recommended acupuncture. I thought I would give it a go, however I must say was slightly dubious as to whether it would actually work. I met with Rachel and she went through my symptoms and history in detail. I automatically felt at ease with Rachel, she was absolutely lovely and very professional. I had my first session and I can honestly say after this session my anxiety had subsided. After 3 sessions I felt a real difference. I was so happy I tried it and can’t recommend Rachel enough" - Alex, Leeds
"..After my first session, my body felt amazing, not just physically but mentally calmer as well, as if someone had just drained all the stress from my mind.." - Katie, York
Some information taken from the British Acupuncture Council website.