What is anxiety?
Anxiety is the mind and body’s natural fear-based stress response to a threat or danger. These threats or dangers can be real or perceived. Anxiety and fear can be a good thing when we need to be alert. However, feeling stuck in an unwanted high alert state is debilitating over time. Anxious thoughts are often characterised by ‘what if’ statements. For example, what if I can’t remember the answers, what if my child gets hurt.
Anxiety disorders are set to soar as a result of the coronavirus covid19 pandemic. The shock people are experiencing is triggering huge anxiety and fear amongst the population. The fear of dying, losing a loved one, losing a job, business, lifestyle or home is creating an existential anxiety and sense of grief. The trauma of the event could leave some people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or Adrenal Fatigue.
Symptoms of anxiety
Anxiety affects your thinking and subsequently how you feel, your physical wellbeing and behaviour. Common symptoms include,
- Incessant ‘what if’ thoughts
- Nausea/ sick tummy
- Low confidence
- Pale face
- Dry mouth and tongue
- Cold hands and feet
- No eye contact
- Muscle tension
- Sweaty palms
Anxiety and Acupuncture for Anxiety
Acupuncture is scientifically proven to relieve the symptoms of anxiety in many ways. (1)
It slows down your thoughts and breathing and brings you into a relaxed state. It releases endorphins, regulates hormones and balances the autonomic nervous system. Over multiple sessions, your brain starts to rewire itself bringing you back into homeostasis. Here are some of the benefits which our clients have experienced;
- More carefree
- Improved appetite and digestion
- Deeper sleep
- More energy and vitality
- Balanced body heat
- Renewed confidence
- Feeling grounded
Prevention is better than cure and the best time to get acupuncture is when you are feeling well. Apart from that, the next best time is when you first start experiencing mild symptoms of anxiety or are going through a stressful period in your life. However, many people come in when they are going through their first ever phase of full blown anxiety attacks or their behaviour is negatively impacting their life. Acupuncture is an amazing healing tool which can be used for all clinical anxiety disorders.
How common are anxiety disorders?
According to St Patrick’s University Hospital Dublin, ‘along with depression, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problem affecting the population of Ireland and Europe. They account for a similar level of stress and disability within society as cancer or heart disease’.
People are generally genetically predisposed to anxiety or suffer a significant trauma or traumas in early adolescence. Anxiety disorders can manifest at any age. Anxiety disorders often go hand in hand with depression, grief and alcohol or substance misuse. This is significant in an acupuncture clinic setting and your treatment will be adjusted accordingly.
Types of Clinical Anxiety
Anxiety can manifest itself in various ways and cause certain behaviours like panicking, staying indoors, avoiding people or situations, substance abuse, checking or doubting, obsessing, tiring easily and fidgeting. Types of clinical anxiety include;
- Panic disorder
- Social Anxiety
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Generalised anxiety disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Panic disorder is characterised by having a panic attack which comes out of nowhere. It is extremely frightening and people feel like they are having a heart attack or are about to die. The person panics over having another attack and this becomes a vicious cycle. The fight or flight or freeze response is triggered in this case and floods the body with excessive hormones which have a strong effect on the mind and body. One cause of panic disorder is recreational drug misuse.
Symptoms of panic disorder
- Rapid breathing
- Chest pain
- Feeling like you’re having a heart attack
- Ringing in the ears
- Hot or cold flushes
- Fear of losing control
- Fear of dying
- Dizziness, light headed or feeling faint
Anxiety disorders begin in the mind with the thoughts we are having. There are various techniques and modalities which help the person to become more aware of their thinking. Some of these include cognitive behavioural therapy (C.B.T) mindfulness, breathing exercises, emotional freedom technique (E.F.T), drug therapy and acupuncture.
People will often take the pharmaceutical drug approach to begin with especially if they are in a highly stressed state and then move into more natural ways like the talk therapies and acupuncture. Pharmaceutical drugs commonly taken in the acute phase are benzodiazepines followed by serotonin boosting anti-depressant drugs. Acupuncture enhances the effectiveness of these drugs by optimising blood flow to the brain and negating unwanted side effects.
It’s vitally important to be medically checked out by your G.P if you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in this blog. At AcuFusion, our approach to clinical anxiety is based around acupuncture, meditation, breathing exercises, nutrition and Chinese herbs. Please fill out the contact form to make an appointment.
- 1. Amorim, D., Amado, J., Brito, I., Fiuza, S. M., Clinical, N. A. T. I., 2018. (n.d.). Acupuncture and electroacupuncture for anxiety disorders: A systematic review of the clinical research. Elsevier. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctcp.2018.01.008