anxiety and acupunctureAnxiety is a mood disorder that plagues a great many people in the U.S. It is estimated that as much as 18% of the population have been diagnosed with anxiety disorder and that there is additional 10-15% who might be undiagnosed. Like stress or blue moods, all of us are likely to experience some anxiety for a short period during our lives. However, for some people anxiety is a crushing, daily issue that can keep them from interacting with their community. The ever-present fear stifles relationships and limits a person’s ability to tolerate any stressors. If anxiety is bad enough, it can progress to panic disorders with a racing heart, soaring blood pressure, sweating, trembling and a severe sense of impending doom.

Western treatment for anxiety is usually a combination of talk therapy and pharmaceuticals, often benzodiazepines. For short-term issues such as job loss or the death of partner, these approaches can work to alleviate the suffering. For chronic anxiety, counseling seems to help a bit but pharmaceutical meds tend to have too many side effects for use long term. Addiction to benzodiazepines in the U.S. is becoming a very large problem that can be as hard to treat as opiate addiction, making them much less attractive treatment options.

Great news is that there are very effective alternatives to Western medicine. Acupuncture, Chinese herbs, supplements, exercise, stress mitigation techniques, and diet powerfully treat the symptoms and underlying imbalances that lead to anxiety without side effects or the worries of addiction. I would venture to say that anxiety is more effectively treated with natural medicine than any other mood disorder. This is probably because acupuncture has such an immediate and direct effect on the nervous system, shifting an individual out of the sympathetic and into the parasympathetic mode, calming the mind and body tremendously. Herbs, supplements, exercise, stress mitigation and diet augment and strengthen the calming effect, supporting an individual in between acupuncture sessions.

Natural treatments work extremely well for anxiety and tend to do a much better job without the side effects and addiction issues associated with Western medicine. I regularly get great results in the clinic with natural medicine. Therefore, I would highly recommend a person look into these approaches combined with counseling. However, I definitely recommend avoiding pharmaceuticals, if at all possible.