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Acupuncture for Anxiety: The Process and Benefits

Acupuncture is an ancient practice that has been used for centuries to treat a variety of illnesses, including anxiety. In this article, we will explore the topic of "Acupuncture for Anxiety" and delve into its potential benefits, mechanisms, and effectiveness in addressing anxiety-related symptoms.

Acupuncture may be a good option for those who want to avoid medication or who can't afford it. Acupuncture can be used in conjunction with other treatments such as medication or counseling because it can help reduce symptoms while waiting for other treatments to take effect. Acupuncture may also be used in addition to medications as a way of reducing side effects or withdrawal symptoms from other treatments.

Acupuncture for Anxiety

For centuries, people have used acupuncture to treat a variety of mental and physical ailments. Auricular acupuncture, or ear acupuncture for anxiety, which involves positioning small needles on the skin near the ears for up to sixty minutes, may reduce anxiety, according to some research.

Numerous practitioners of holistic medicine recommend acupuncture to treat anxiety and prevent it from developing into depression. People also use acupuncture for anxiety to circumvent the risks and side effects associated with certain types of conventional psychological medications.

How Does Acupuncture Relieve Anxiety?

Acupuncture works by activating the body's natural healing response and promoting a state of relaxation. When the needles are inserted into the acupuncture points, it stimulates the release of endorphins, which are the body's natural painkillers and mood enhancers. 

Moreover, acupuncture is believed to regulate the neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine, which play a crucial role in regulating mood and emotions.

Is Acupuncture Effective for Anxiety? Research and Evidence

While the scientific research on acupuncture for anxiety is still evolving, several studies have shown promising results. A systematic review published in the Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies found that acupuncture could significantly reduce anxiety symptoms in patients with various anxiety disorders. Another study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine reported that acupuncture was as effective as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in reducing anxiety symptoms.

The Process of Using Acupuncture for Anxiety

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) often refers to the "Qi" (pronounced “chee”) which is an energy force that governs the body's overall well-being. Qi moves through the body along pathways known as meridians, similar to the way blood moves through the circulatory system. Health problems are thought to arise whenever factors such as stress, injury, a change in environment, or improper diet impede the movement of Qi.

Acupuncture is the insertion of needles into the body at specific points to release natural substances that have a therapeutic effect. Acupuncturists insert needles into specific areas of the body to achieve proper Qi levels and improve the patient's overall health.

Acupuncture Points for Anxiety

The most common way that acupuncture can be used to treat anxiety is through the insertion of needles into various points on the body, usually for less than five minutes. These points are called acupoints. Acupoints are located in places where there is an energy pathway or meridian in the body. There are twelve main meridians in Chinese medicine and each one has a specific function or purpose.

The most common acupoints used to treat anxiety include: Shen Men (the point between your eyebrows), Nei Guan (the point below your nose), and Bai Hui (the top of your head).

Acupuncturists position each needle half a millimeter from a nerve in the patient's body. Based on the location of the needles, acupuncture can target the nervous system to enhance the body's natural healing abilities, produce painkilling chemicals, or activate the area of ​​the brain that regulates emotions such as anxiety.

These types of results invariably help patients to center themselves better and relieve the symptoms of many diseases. In addition to performing needlestick procedures, acupuncturists may also use breathing and lifestyle techniques, as well as diet and herbal therapies.

Benefits of Acupuncture for Anxiety

Patients often prefer their doctors to prescribe acupuncture for anxiety because this natural treatment does not require chemical drugs. Various medications designed to relieve or manage anxiety have side effects such as nausea, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. Also, medications are often more expensive than acupuncture, and patients sometimes have an allergy or intolerance to the medications.

Acupuncture can be particularly useful for people who want to cut down on their drug use or stop taking medications altogether (regardless of whether they are prescribed or not). That's because acupuncture naturally controls the balance of chemicals in the body and can discourage people from taking any form of medication.

Getting to the root of the problem with acupuncture for anxiety

Proponents of acupuncture for anxiety often point to another benefit of this alternative treatment – namely, that it aims to relieve the problem at its source, rather than treating the symptoms as they arise. Most anti-anxiety medications do not purport to cure anxiety. Unlike counseling, people who use acupuncture for anxiety typically notice results after the first session, which tend to improve as the treatment progresses.

Acupuncture produces certain physical effects that can improve the quality of life and health of anxious patients who respond well to treatment. Patients who received standard auricular acupuncture treatments reported several benefits, such as stronger bonds with family and friends, improved mood, and reduced stress. Both male and female anxious sufferers can experience sexual dysfunction as a result of their condition, and pinna acupuncture is believed to alleviate these problems.

Side Effects and Safety Concerns

When performed by a certified/licensed professional, using acupuncture for anxiety is usually safe. (For example, in the US, the license requirement mostly is taking an exam from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine). Occasionally, patients experience side effects such as soreness, dizziness, or drowsiness; however, these are usually short-term and mild.

Anyone who chooses to use acupuncture for anxiety should ensure that their acupuncture practitioner is affiliated with a recognized national acupuncture organization and is a regulated medical professional.


Left untreated, anxiety symptoms can worsen over time. In some cases, this can lead to depression and even suicidal tendencies. While patients with serious anxiety should consult licensed physicians, alternative treatments such as acupuncture can relieve anxiety before it develops into a serious condition.

Many patients begin acupuncture for anxiety when they become more stressed due to lifestyle changes or as soon as they become aware of anxious feelings. Anxiety diagnosed in its early stages is less likely to develop, and recurrent acupuncture treatments are considered a safe, non-invasive solution.

Periodic acupuncture treatments not only work directly to relieve anxiety but also allow patients to adopt a regime of general well-being. Acupuncture patients often describe the procedure as meditative and calming. Sometimes people who use acupuncture for anxiety find that in addition to improving their anxiety symptoms, their body also has better opportunities to heal.

Remember, if you are considering acupuncture for anxiety, it is essential to consult with a qualified and licensed acupuncturist who can assess your individual needs and develop a personalized treatment plan. Embrace the ancient wisdom of acupuncture and discover a pathway to a calmer, more balanced mind.

FAQs about Acupuncture for Anxiety

Q. Can acupuncture cure anxiety?

A. Acupuncture cannot cure anxiety outright, but it can be a valuable tool in managing anxiety symptoms. Acupuncture addresses the underlying imbalances contributing to anxiety and can provide relief by promoting relaxation and restoring equilibrium. Work with a healthcare provider to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that may include acupuncture alongside other therapies.

Q. How many acupuncture sessions are needed for anxiety?

A. The number of acupuncture sessions required for anxiety can vary depending on several factors, including the severity of anxiety, the individual's response to treatment, and the treatment plan developed by the acupuncturist. In general, a series of weekly or bi-weekly sessions may be recommended initially, with adjustments made based on the individual's progress.

Q. Is acupuncture safe during pregnancy?

A. Acupuncture is generally considered safe during pregnancy when performed by a qualified acupuncturist. However, do inform your acupuncturist about your pregnancy and any specific concerns you may have. The acupuncturist can modify the treatment approach to ensure the safety and well-being of both the mother and the baby.

Q. What should I look for in an acupuncturist?

A. When seeking an acupuncturist for anxiety treatment, it is important to choose a licensed and experienced professional. Look for certifications or credentials that indicate their training in acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Additionally, consider reading reviews or seeking recommendations from trusted sources to ensure you find a reputable practitioner.

Q. Can acupuncture be used alongside medication?

A. Acupuncture can be used alongside medication for anxiety, but it is important to consult with your healthcare provider to ensure compatibility and safety. Acupuncture is a complementary therapy and should not replace prescribed medications without proper medical guidance. Your healthcare provider can help determine the most appropriate combination of treatments for your specific needs.

Q. Is acupuncture painful?

A. The sensation caused by acupuncture needles is generally mild and often described as a slight pinch or prick. Most people find the experience comfortable and relaxing. If you have concerns about needle sensitivity, be sure to discuss them with your acupuncturist beforehand.

Q. Are there any side effects of acupuncture for anxiety?

A. Acupuncture is generally well-tolerated, with minimal side effects. Occasionally, mild bruising, soreness, or temporary fatigue may occur. Serious complications are rare when performed by a qualified acupuncturist.

Q. How long do the effects of acupuncture for anxiety last?

A. The duration of the effects of acupuncture for anxiety can vary among individuals. Some individuals may experience immediate relief, while others may require several sessions before noticing significant changes. The effects of acupuncture are cumulative, and consistent treatment over time can help maintain the benefits and support long-term anxiety management.

Q. Can acupuncture help with specific types of anxiety disorders?

A. Yes, acupuncture has shown promise in helping individuals with various types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Q. Can acupuncture be used preventively for anxiety?

A. Acupuncture can be utilized preventively to promote overall well-being and stress reduction. Regular acupuncture sessions may help in maintaining emotional balance and reducing the likelihood of anxiety symptoms.


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