If someone has an anxiety disorder, surely inserting needles into their skin is going to make them more anxious? Not if this is part of a person's treatment to help manage their anxiety. Acupuncture can be a valuable component of an overall treatment plan to help keep your anxious tendencies in check. How exactly can acupuncture treatment help a person dealing with anxiety?
The Physical Process
If you've never experienced acupuncture before, please don't let the thought of the needles stop you. Acupuncture needles are extremely thin, and are inserted into your subcutaneous tissues (the deepest part of your skin, made mostly of fat cells). While you will feel the needles as they gently pierce your skin, the process shouldn't be painful, although there might be some light soreness after a session (which should fade away relatively quickly). Your acupuncturist will be targeting specific pressure points, stimulating them in a way that may help to minimize the effects of your anxiety.
It's the stimulation of these pressure points that's thought to help minimize anxiety, as this can trigger your body to produce more of what are referred to as the feel-good hormones (dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, and oxytocin) while potentially reducing the levels of hormones which can induce a feeling of stress (such as cortisol). The basis of acupuncture suggests that your body has upwards of 2000 pressure points, all connected by pathways that facilitate the flow of energy through your body, which regulates your overall health.
There are key pressure points which will be targeted during acupuncture treatment for anxiety. For example, in a session your acupuncturist may focus on your hall of impression point (between your eyebrows), as well as your heavenly gate point (in the upper portion of your ear). The needles will be inserted and left for a short period of time. They may be stimulated (rotated or gently tapped) while inserted, depending on the intensity of treatment your acupuncturist feels is most appropriate. Subsequent treatments may incorporate other relevant pressure points as they relate to your body's energy pathways, such as your great surge point (in your feet). Results are unlikely to be immediate, and a reduction to your overall levels of anxiety is more of a cumulative, ongoing effort (much like many forms of therapy).
Acupuncture can be an important part of an overall treatment plan when combatting anxiety, but remember that it's not a quick fix. Instead, think of acupuncture as one of the numerous tools that can help you to manage your anxiety. A site like www.bonafideacupuncture.com has more information.