Anxiety and panic attacks

We can all experience anxiety from time to time, perhaps when faced with a job interview or an exam, when the thought of feeling foolish or failing can affect your appetite, sleep or concentration. Usually these feelings pass, but if the anxiety stays at a high level for a long time, you may start to feel that it is difficult to deal with everyday life. If the anxiety becomes severe; you may feel powerless, out of control, as if you are about to die or go mad.

Can acupuncture help?

This is what one of my patients, Jenny (24) had to say about her anxiety and her treatment with acupuncture:

I had a terrible situation going on at work and was in a lot of debt. I would get a sense of dread that started in my stomach and seemed to rise up my body. My heart would race and I felt like my head was exploding. I ended up shaking uncontrollably and feeling like I was going to die. I couldn’t hide it and didn’t want to leave the house. Acupuncture really relaxed me and helped me understand what was going on. I learned to control my panic attacks, and after a while I stopped getting them. I didn’t want to take tablets because I was breast-feeding my baby at the time, so the acupuncture was great for me.

Chinese medicine has been used to treat anxiety for nearly 2000 years. The underlying theory is very different from conventional medicine, and diagnoses each person individually in a way which helps to make sense of their symptoms. People can find that acupuncture can help to reduce their symptoms and help them feel more in control.

The Research

There have not been enough large high quality clinical trials exploring acupuncture for anxiety to be able to show clear research results. One of the more recent trials from Germany (Eich et al 2000) studied 56 patients divided into two groups who received either ‘true’ acupuncture or ‘sham’ acupuncture. After 5 treatments, both groups were responding similarly, but after 10 treatments

‘a significant improvement was experienced by those in the ‘true’ acupuncture group, with a remarkable reduction in anxiety symptoms.’

You can read more about this trial and others in a briefing paper (2002) from the Acupuncture Research Resource Centre (ARRC), which aims to provide a transparent, critical evaluation of the key papers in the literature. This review concludes that

‘acupuncture could play a significant role in the treatment for depression and anxiety’

More large, high quality studies are needed, but for those people who don’t want to take medication or try counselling, acupuncture may be a useful way of treating this distressing condition.

If you’d like to try acupuncture for your anxiety, please contact me and make an appointment. To find out what happens at your first appointment, or hear how other people have found receiving acupuncture, just click here.

References

Eich H, Agelink MW, Lehmann E, Lemmer W, Klieser E. (2000) Akupunktur bei leichten bis mittelschwere depressiven Episoden und Angstsorungen Fortschr Neurol Pschiat 2000 68:137-144

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