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Acupuncture For Anxiety

Anxiety disorders affect about 40 million American adults age 18 and older. In a given year, it affects twice as many women as men. In Western medicine, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a psychological and physiological state characterized by excessive and exaggerated anxiety and worry about everyday life events with no obvious reasons for worry. The worry is often unrealistic or out of proportion for the situation. Daily life becomes a constant state of worry, fear and dread.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), anxiety is viewed not as a brain dysfunction, but more as an imbalance of the inner meridians. Worry, dwelling, or excessive mental work can effect the Spleen meridian. Mental restlessness, depression, insomnia, feelings of despair are symptoms of a disorder with the Heart meridian. Anger, resentment, frustration, irritability, and bitterness are associated with the Liver meridian. With the Lung meridian we see more grief and sadness. And finally, an imbalance with the Kidney meridian, will reflect a person that is fearful, insecure, isolated and has weak willpower. In all anxiety cases, the Shen or spirit is disturbed, so acupuncture treatments are focused on harmonizing the Shen. In TCM, anxiety is usually caused by an imbalance in the Spleen and Heart meridians.

When treating anxiety, weekly acupuncture treatments are necessary until the patient feels the anxiety is either gone or at a very low level. It can take 4-6 weekly treatments depending on the person and the anxiety level. Treatments are then spaced out further to monthly or quarterly to help maintain a calm state. In addition, activities such as Qi Gong, Yoga or mediation are excellent forms of mind-body exercises that can improve the ability to control both anxiety and depression.