How Acupuncture Helps With Anxiety

Cherry Blossoms

As a Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine I see a lot of patients who are experiencing mental health issues, like anxiety and depression. Since the start of Covid the cases have risen exponentially. The good thing is many are seeking help with acupuncture and mental health therapy. 

Why Does Acupuncture Help Anxiety?

One of the main things acupuncture does is calm the mind and body by increasing blood flow. This leads to thinking clearly and making more rational decisions. 

Acupuncture Complements Talk Therapy

Conversely, therapists help by letting patients talk about what’s really bothering them, in a safe place. Therefore using talk therapy and acupuncture together work very well for our patients. They’re usually feeling better in no time. In fact, studies have shown that acupuncture and talk therapy both help patients with anxiety and depression better than the standard of care alone. While both are helpful by themselves, we recommend a multipronged approach of using acupuncture in conjunction with therapy for mental health

Diet and Anxiety — The Importance of Diet 

One of the first things I check in with patients about is what they’re eating. Sometimes patients are eating foods that are triggering to them, like alcohol, caffeine, sugar and processed food. 

Our mental health is very important to our overall health. Mental health affects our sleep and our energy levels. It can cause malfunction of our digestive system, like diarrhea, constipation and changes in weight. Our cardiovascular system, like high cholesterol, strokes & heart-attacks. This has to be addressed in order to truly heal.

Tips for Managing Anxiety

Anxiety can be overwhelming, but incorporating certain strategies into your daily life can make a significant difference.

  • Practice deep breathing exercises: Take slow, deep breaths to help calm your nervous system.
  • Engage in physical activity: Exercise releases endorphins, which can boost your mood and reduce anxiety.
  • Prioritize self-care: Dedicate time each day to activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as reading, taking baths, or listening to music.
  • Create a soothing routine: Establish a consistent bedtime routine to promote better sleep and reduce anxiety before bed.
  • Challenge negative thoughts: Identify negative thinking patterns and reframe them in a more positive and helpful way. 
  • Establish boundaries: Learn to say no when necessary and set clear boundaries to reduce overwhelm and stress.
  • Seek social support: Connect with trusted friends or family members who can provide support and understanding during challenging times.
  • Mindfulness and grounding techniques: Practice techniques like mindfulness meditation or grounding exercises to center yourself in the present moment and reduce anxiety.
  • Get acupuncture: Acupuncture can help regulate your nervous system and help improve your sleep quality so that everything feels better.  

Personalize your Mental Health Toolkit

Remember, these tips may vary in their effectiveness for different individuals. Seeking professional guidance from a therapist or physician along with acupuncture and herbal medicine is highly recommended for personalized support and guidance in managing mental health challenges.

Ready to Calm Your Mind?

If you could use some support for your mental health or better quality sleep, then give acupuncture and herbal medicine a try. Your acupuncturist will use your tongue, pulse, medical history, and current symptoms to create a completely customized treatment plan that is just for you — because you deserve to feel and sleep better. To get started, head to our booking page and schedule your first appointment. If you’d like us to check your insurance benefits, we’d be happy to take care of that for you. Many insurance plans cover acupuncture as an adjunct therapy for mental health. Our acupuncture clinic in Washington, DC is in-network with CareFirst/BlueCross and Aetna.

About the Author

Dr. Shannan Walker, DTCM, Dipl.O.M., L.Ac.
Former Associate Acupuncturist at Cherry Blossom Healing Arts

Studying Chinese Medicine gave me the tools to help people live a better life. I follow the same practices on myself that I recommend to my patients. I listen to my patients and try to help them with whatever is bothering them.

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