Can acupuncture help anxiety symptoms?
Do you have anxiety?
Anxiety creates a feeling of worry and nervousness. It is often felt when we are facing something with an uncertain outcome, such as a driving test or public speaking and can lead to disturbed sleep, irritability and poor concentration, as well as physical symptoms, including a feeling of butterflies and a lump in your throat. Additionally, anxiety may influence how we behave socially, for instance, when we feel anxious, we often avoid doing things that we want to because we are worried about what would happen if something went wrong and how we would cope.
Is your anxiety normal?
A little bit of anxiety can be helpful; Mild to moderate anxiety is perfectly normal and healthy. It is part of our protection mechanism, helping to increase alertness and performance in challenging situations, for example, feeling anxious before an exam can help improve focus.
However, the distinction between a disorder and normal anxiety isn't always clear and too much anxiety may lead to panic attacks, phobia, and social anxiety with physical symptoms such as sweating, nausea, diarrhoea, dry mouth, palpitations, and shortness of breath, as well as dizziness. When anxiety reaches this level it can start to impact on everyday life and professional help may be needed.
Some people suffer from Generalised Anxiety Disorder, which involves chronic worrying, nervousness, and tension for 6 months or more, so that a general feeling of dread or unease clouds their whole life.
This persistent anxiety and uncontrollable worry can sometimes lead to physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, digestive symptoms, cold hands, back pain, insomnia, trembling and twitching, and although it is less intense than a panic attack, it lasts much longer, making normal life difficult and relaxation impossible, thereby significantly reducing quality of life.
Sometimes Generalised Anxiety Disorder sufferers may even be unaware that their physical symptoms are based in anxiety, as they have felt anxious for so long that it has become “normal” for them.
What treatment is available for anxiety?
Anti-depressant medication is commonly prescribed by GP’s for anxiety symptoms, but for those wishing to avoid medication and possible side effects, counselling in the form of cognitive behavioural therapy may also be an option.
There are some indications that acupuncture may have an impact on this condition and Anxiety UK (www.anxietyuk.org.uk) have been involved in a research study to evaluate this. Our acupuncturist, Julia Bletcher, has a particular interest in acupuncture for anxiety and depression and will be involved in Anxiety UK’s research programme during 2016.
If you are suffering from anxiety and would like a free 15 minute consultation with Julia to discuss trying acupuncture please ring 07872330502 to book an appointment.