Used in conjunction, acupuncture and CBT can form an effective, short term intervention that both treats current symptoms and helps protect against future recurrence.
Acupuncture: an effective treatment for anxiety
There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that acupuncture is an effective treatment for anxiety, including in individuals found to be resistant to conventional medicine. Given its accessibility, relative cost effectiveness and ease of use this is certainly good news.
On average, 1 in 4 people – 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men – will experience anxiety and it is currently the most common mental health condition in Australia. Anxiety is a broad term that can cover many specific disorders, including panic attacks, agoraphobia, specific phobias, social phobia, obsessive compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder and acute stress disorder. In Japan, China and Korea it is commonplace for anxiety to be treated with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) acupuncture. This, along with other complementary and alternative medicine approaches, is now a growing trend within the Western world, to our benefit.
Depending on who you go to for an acupuncture consultation, the number and location of points used, the number of sessions a week and the number of sessions that define a treatment episode vary. There is a word of warning here, in that there is a growing trend of trained medical professionals obtaining a qualification in “dry-needling”, which requires limited study and experience. While this may be an effective add-on treatment in some cases, particularly localised muscular pain, when dealing with treatments for emotional and psychological issues it is important to go a fully qualified Traditional Chinese Medicine trained acupuncturist.
Acupuncture and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an extensively research supported treatment for common mental health conditions, and while acupuncture has been shown to be as effective as CBT in the treatment of anxiety the approach of these two methods is significantly different. Acupuncture is effective in treating the current episode of anxiety without regard to its psychological cause. CBT on the other hand, looks at and addresses the types of unhelpful thinking that can lead to an episode of anxiety, building resilience against further episodes. Used in conjunction, acupuncture and CBT can form an effective, short term intervention that both treats current symptoms and helps protect against future recurrence.
Written in consultation with Dr Andre Denize – (Ahpra registered Chinese medicine practitioner) B.Sc Acupuncture UTS Sydney 1995
Acupuncture for Anxiety, Errington-Evans, Nick, CNS Neuroscience and Therapeutics, April 2012, Vol.18(4), pp.277-284