Stress and Anxiety
Stress and Anxiety are now commonplace in today’s society. We all cope differently and react in unique ways to situations. Unfortunately it is an issue that I see on a daily basis in my clinic. People seem to be prepared to work under almost impossibly stressful situations. Added to this a challenging home life where mortgage payments are an increasingly higher percentage of our incomes compared to our parent’s generation, a family where both partners work full-time jobs, an economy under considerable strain, it’s not hard to imagine that there will ultimately be a health consequence.
Feelings of stress and anxiety are at least being talked about more. Considered to be part of mental health, there has always been a stigma attached to talking about feelings of not coping, especially in the workplace. The NHS estimates that approx 75% of the patients they see can attribute part or all of their illness to stress.
Traditional Chinese Medicine includes the emotions when looking at any health condition. Each organ of the body have different emotions attached to it, for example: The Liver houses the emotions of anger & frustration, The Spleen houses the emotions of worry and over-thinking. Sound familiar? It is likely that if you are unable to switch off your brain, continuously thinking abut a situation, then your digestion will be compromised.
After a full consultation I will be able to create a prescription of acupuncture points to address the symptoms of stress and anxiety, whilst also treating the underlying health disharmony which can be making you more vulnerable to the emotions.
I am not a trained counsellor, but often patients will talk about the things that are worrying them. Please be reassured that everything that is said in my clinic room is completely confidential.
There is considerable research into the effects of Acupuncture on stress and anxiety and has found that it may benefit the patient by:
- Acting on areas of the brain known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promoting relaxation and deactivating the 'analytical' brain, which is responsible for anxiety and worry (Hui 2010; Hui 2009);
- Improving stress induced memory impairment and an increasing AchE reactivity in the hippocampus (Kim 2011);
- Reducing serum levels of corticosterone and the number of tyrosine hydroxylase-immunoreactive cells (Park 2010);
- Regulating levels of neurotransmitters (or their modulators) and hormones such as serotonin, noradrenaline, dopamine, GABA, neuropeptide Y and ACTH; hence altering the brain's mood chemistry to help to combat negative affective states (Lee 2009; Cheng 2009; Zhou 2008);
- Stimulating production of endogenous opioids that affect the autonomic nervous system (Arranz 2007). Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, while acupuncture can activate the opposing parasympathetic nervous system, which initiates the relaxation response;
- Reversing pathological changes in levels of inflammatory cytokines that are associated with stress reactions (Arranz 2007);
- Reducing inflammation, by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors (Kavoussi 2007, Zijlstra 2003);
- Reversing stress-induced changes in behaviour and biochemistry (Kim 2009).
Research citations taken from The British Acupuncuture Council. There is a considerable library of research documents on this website which you may find interesting: