Assessing how a person experiences and expresses emotions is a key part of diagnosis and treatment planning for an acupuncturist. The assessment lies in whether the emotions are appropriate to the situation. Inappropriate emotions are a signal of imbalance. While it is appropriate for someone to experience the ‘fight or flight’ response to a sudden threat, for example, when you’re startled by a loud noise, it’s inappropriate to have a continued stress response. Prolonged symptoms may be the sign of an anxiety disorder.

This is of particular concern for teenagers. The Nuffield Foundation found that the proportion of 15/16 year olds who feel anxious or depressed has doubled in the last 30 years [1].

Traditional treatment

The NHS recommends a self-help approach initially, with support from your GP. Psychological treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy may be prescribed, or medications if this self-help doesn’t work [2].

Using the breath to create calm

Often, people suffering from anxiety breathe quickly and do not fill their lungs. Breathing techniques can help to calm the nervous system. Using a 5, 7, 9 approach may help. Breathe in for 5 seconds, hold for 7 seconds and breathe out for 9 seconds. Do this for a few minutes every morning and whenever you are feeling anxious. Once you’ve mastered this, you might try alternate nostril breathing. You can find lots of videos demonstrating this technique on YouTube.

Acupuncture and anxiety

Research into acupuncture treatment for anxiety has focused on acute anxiety related to medical operations or dentistry [3] but there are also positive results from studies that have looked at PTSD [4], substance misuse [5, 6, 7], eating disorders [8], hyperventilation [9], asthma [10], insomnia [11], post-stroke [12] and musculoskeletal pain [13,14].

Acupuncture may be of significant benefit to those suffering with anxiety, by acting on the areas of the brain that reduces sensitivity to pain and stress.

Visit our blog for more information on the research and to find instructions for using acupressure with the point highlighted. Why not give acupuncture a try and see if it can help you?

What’s the point?

As the mind and emotions are an integral part of acupuncture treatment, there are many points that will address imbalances in either area.

Heart 7 Spirit Gate

This point is used to calm the spirit and is wonderful for anxiety and related conditions.

  • Open your hand, so that you are looking at your palm
  • Find the pea-sized bone in the corner of the hand opposite the thumb
  • The point is below this bone and slightly towards the centre of the wrist, in a hollow

Acupuncture points are shared for information only. Interested parties may try using acupressure but needles should only be used by qualified professionals. If you’d like to know more about acupressure, read this great website.

[1] http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/news/increased-levels-anxiety-and-depression-teenage-experience-changes-over-time

[2] http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Anxiety/Pages/Introduction.aspx

[3] https://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/anxiety.html

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17568299

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18060697

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19241647

[7] Grusser S.M. Morsen C.P. Rau S. Partecke G. Jellinek C. Raben R. The impact of auricular acupuncture on drug craving and negative affective states in opiate dependents and non-dependent alcohol consumers. Deutsche Zeitschrift fur Akupunktur. 2005; 48(4): 20-27.

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21130359

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17309376

[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21944653

[11] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19034253

[12] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19004200

[13] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18160925

[14] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16025785