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Acupuncture (and Self-Acupressure) for Anxiety

Updated: Jun 12, 2023

Acupuncture is a great tool for reducing anxiety, with significant research to back it up. Today, I'm going to answer some of my most common questions about how it works, what to expect in an acupuncture treatment for anxiety, and how my trauma-informed approach applies to needle or healthcare anxiety! I'll also link to some self-acupressure tools you can use to reduce anxiety at home.


How does it acupuncture for anxiety work?


Acupuncture:


- Regulates the autonomic nervous system and improve heart rate variability (HRV) - a measure of the body's ability to cope with stress

- Lowers cortisol levels (the stress hormone)

- Releases endorphins and regulates serotonin (which effects functions like mood and sleep)

- Essentially, acupuncture helps our bodies transition from "fight or flight" mode into the "rest, digest and heal" state


The effects can occur during a single acupuncture treatment, although regular treatments can have a stronger, cumulative effect.


A good summary of the research on acupuncture for anxiety can be found here.


But how can I relax and calm my anxiety with needles?

It may sound counterintuitive, but acupuncture is very relaxing. Most clients experience a sense of calm and relaxation during their treatment, and many even fall asleep!


There's a few reasons for this: 1) The needles are quite thin, and many people only feel a mild sensation or none at all once they're inserted.

2) Because acupuncture stimulates the parasympathetic response (rest, digest and heal state), the relaxation effect happens pretty quickly. It generally increases during the treatment time and lasts even once the needles are out - similar to the relaxing buzz you feel after a good yoga or meditation session.

3) My approach is consent-led and trauma-informed, so I prioritize my clients' feelings of safety, comfort and autonomy first and foremost. My job is to walk you through each step so you feel informed, use optional guided relaxation techniques to help you feel more at ease, and answer any questions along the way. This is especially key for anyone who has struggled to get relaxed at an acupuncture appointment in the past, or has experienced previous trauma in a healthcare setting. My approach will support you through the process from start to finish.

If you’re struggling with anxiety, book in to try out acupuncture. You can also contact me to discuss your questions.

Free Resource

You can use acupressure (gentle massage of acupuncture points) on yourself at home to help with anxiety too. Click here for my free guide that walks you through everything you need to know.


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