Acupuncture for anxiety: Does it really work?
Anxiety is the most common complaint we see in the clinic and we often use acupuncture for depression and anxiety together. It may not be the primary reason patients seek acupuncture treatment, but it frequently accompanies other symptoms such as pain, chronic illness, insomnia and depression.
One of the first things patients say to me after completing their first treatment is “I’ve never felt so relaxed in all my life!” People are astonished because we don’t associate needles with relaxation! But in truth, acupuncture and anxiety often lead to an improved outcome for most patients.
The Research on Acupuncture for Anxiety
A German study at the Klinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie, am Evangelischen Krankenhaus Gelsenkirchen Universitätsklinik der Ruhr-Universität Bochum and published in 2000, was conducted using acupuncture for patients with depression and generalized anxiety disorder.
The authors concluded: “Our results indicate that needle acupuncture (Du.20, Ex.6, He.7, Pe.6, Bl.62) leads to a significant clinical improvement as well as to a remarkable reduction in anxiety symptoms in patients with minor depression or with generalized anxiety disorders. The total sum of acupuncture sessions and the specific location of acupuncture needle insertions might be important factors for bringing about therapeutic success.”
Another study, conducted at Yale University School of Medicine, was conducted on volunteers to treat anxiety prior to surgery. The authors concluded: “We conclude that auricular acupuncture at the “relaxation” point can decrease the anxiety level in a population of healthy volunteers.”
A Mayo clinic study published in June 2006 found that acupuncture was an effective treatment for anxiety in fibromyalgia patients. “Symptomatic improvement was not restricted to pain relief and was most significant for fatigue and anxiety.”
These studies reflect the improvement I see in the treatment room every day. It is exciting to see patients work with their psychiatrist and be able to eliminate or reduce dependence on pharmaceutical medications that have so many side effects.