Approximately one in six adults suffer with a neurotic disorder (ONS, 2000), the most common being mixed anxiety and depressive disorder. Anxiety UK suggests that over two thirds of the UK’s estimated three million anxiety sufferers do not seek treatment for their condition, even though a lot of the sufferers expressed that the condition affects their career and relationships.
Anxiety can trigger a variety of responses in the human body, from physical responses such as sweating, nausea, diarrhoea, palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, cold hands and body aches, to emotional responses such as disturbed sleep, irritability, fear and poor concentration, as well as behavioural and cognitive responses. The mental strain of a fast-paced modern life can easily lead to this myriad of unpleasant symptoms.
Conventional treatment for anxiety disorders include psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and applied relaxation, and medication such as some antidepressants and benzodiazepines (NICE, 2007). All drug treatments have side effects, and many may cause withdrawal symptoms.
Acupuncture can be used to effectively treat anxiety. Research has shown that acupuncture helps to ease anxiety by acting on areas of the brain in charge with reducing sensitivity to pain and stress, hence promoting the relaxation response. Acupuncture regulates hormones and neurotransmitters that are known to affect our mood and well-being, such as endorphins, serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine. Acupuncture can be also used safely and effectively in conjunction with conventional drug treatment, minimising the unwanted side effects. Treatment is always based on a full case history before deciding on a treatment plan that may consist of acupuncture, herbal medicine, lifestyle and dietary advice. We have seen great results in addressing anxiety disorders and it is really rewarding to see positive effects in our patient’s lives.