Anxiety is defined by the American Psychological Association (APA) as “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.” It affects approximately 40 million Americans, or 18.1% of the population, making it the most commonly diagnosed mental illness in the country. Anxiety can be broken down into several more specific types, which include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) – affects 6.8 million adults or 3.1% of U.S. population
- Panic disorder (PD) – affects 6 million adults or 2.7% of U.S. population
- Social anxiety disorder (SAD) – affects 15 million adults or 6.8% of U.S. population
- Specific phobias – affect 19 million adults or 8.7% of the U.S. population
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) – affects 2.2 million adults or 1% of the U.S. population
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – affects 7.7 million adults or 3.5% of the U.S. population
Many people who experience anxiety have more than one of the above, so some of those statistics overlap. However, it is easy to see how pervasive an issue it is – nearly 1 in 5 people struggle with it regularly. Sadly, although there are many treatment options for anxiety, only about 37% receive treatment. It is believed that anxiety disorders develop from a variety of compounding factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.
While the more specific forms of anxiety such as phobias, PTSD, and OCD are often challenging to treat, many patients with generalized anxiety have found great relief through acupuncture. In fact, a study conducted in 2015 found that acupuncture is especially helpful for those who have had little or no improvement with other types of treatment like psychotherapy and medication.
Because acupuncture is a natural treatment, it is generally safe to do in addition to other treatments like medication, which makes it an excellent option for those with anxiety. Certain people should not have acupuncture, however, including those with pacemakers or bleeding conditions like hemophilia. If you are unsure if it is a good option for you, speak with your primary care physician or with Dr. Lok.
When you come in for your first appointment, we will go over your medical history and ask some questions about what brings you in to see us. This will help Dr. Lok know where to focus your treatment so you get the most out of your visits. The process of acupuncture involves inserting sterile, very thin needles into specific pressure points on your body. This typically takes about 15 minutes, and then the needles are left in place up to 20 minutes.
Most people report not even feeling the needles during the process. Those that do, only feel tiny pricks upon insertion, or minor pressure while in place. Afterward, you may experience some general soreness in the areas where Dr. Lok placed the needles, but this usually goes away within a few hours.
Overall, acupuncture can be a great addition to your self-care routine to help you feel your best. We welcome any questions you may have about the treatment process and the ways it can help. For questions or to schedule an appointment, please call us at (702) 732-0178.