Will Acupuncture Work Wonders For Your Anxiety?


Beautiful young adult woman receiving professional acupuncture and massage treatment.

There are few illnesses quite as debilitating as anxiety. At its worst, anxiety can literally freeze you in place, and it’s always hard to diagnose and treat. Popular treatments include taking certain drugs, but not everyone with anxiety is comfortable taking them.

Are you one of those people? Or maybe you’d just like alternatives to some costly medication? While you shouldn’t do anything without first consulting with your physician, we’re here to recommend acupuncture for anxiety. How does it work and what will it do for your anxiety? Keep reading to find out!

In what way does acupuncture affect anxiety?

If you’re like the average person, then the very idea of acupuncture might seem a bit scary. We’re going to provide you with a brief breakdown of what an average acupuncture session looks like. Before that, though, we need to answer your biggest question: just how is acupuncture supposed to affect anxiety in the first place?

The scientific idea behind it is that acupuncture can help to regulate your nervous system by placing needles in very specific spots. While that’s the explanation given by modern Western science, the idea of using acupuncture to treat anxiety goes all the way back to ancient China.

China long ago embraced the notion that our health is directly related to the flow of energy, or “qi,” through our bodies. To practitioners of ancient Chinese medicine, acupuncture works to ease anxiety because it helps restore harmony through your body, freeing up energy that was otherwise blocked.

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What is an acupuncture session like?

Woman massage therapist doing manual therapy to patient lying on bed in luxury hotel room in tourist resort. Shooting in wide low angle, backlight. Alternative therapy, acupuncture techniques, tantra and energy practices, points on the body. Relaxation, mindfulness and zen-like

If you’re reading this, chances are that you’ve never had acupuncture before. That means you probably have no idea what an average session is like. By learning more about what you can expect, you can make a better decision regarding whether to use acupuncture for your own anxiety.

After you and the acupuncturist make sure you’re on the same page regarding your goals, you will lay back in a comfortable chair while they tap needles into the “channels” of your skin. By the way, the needles are very small–as thin as hairs, and they don’t go very deep. Such sessions usually last for half an hour, and there may be some environmental features (including relaxing music or heat lamps) to help you relax.

If all goes well, you’ll emerge from the session feeling fresh and renewed, with far less anxiety than you felt going in.

How does acupuncture specifically benefit those with anxiety? 

Bowl with acupuncture needles on wooden table

It’s one thing for acupuncture to help provide a general sense of stress relief. What does it specifically do for anxiety, though? In many studies, it has proven to be an effective alternative to traditional medication in alleviating the traditional symptoms of anxiety.

Because of how effective it is, some people turn to acupuncture to help relieve anxiety before major life events ranging from job interviews to surgery. Amazingly, one study found that a group who received acupuncture before getting gallbladder or hernia surgery actually experienced less anxiety than those who took anti-anxiety medication!

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Acupuncture: side effects and risks

While acupuncture has some great benefits and can really help with your anxiety, there are certain potential side effects you should be aware of. These side effects may include bleeding, bruising, and/or fainting. In the absolute worst cases, side effects may include puncture wounds, infections, and even injuries to your central nervous system.

Worrying about those scary side effects may make your anxiety worse, so why would we recommend acupuncture for anxiety? Simple: the nastiest side effects are almost always a result of an acupuncturist not having enough knowledge or experience. If you take the time to research your area and get the right acupuncture expert, you can easily make crippling anxiety a thing of the past.

An easy at-home alternative to acupuncture

Qualified professional wearing blue surgical gloves inserts needles into patients wrist. Top down image. Skin provides space for copy.

Does acupuncture still sound a bit scary to you? Or maybe you’re a fan, but you don’t have the time, energy, or money to get regular sessions. In either case, you should know that you can simulate many of the benefits of acupuncture at home using only your hands (or the hands of a trusted partner).

Acupressure is the practice of deeply pressing your fingertips into different points of your body in order to improve your nervous system. It takes a bit of practice and exploration, but done right, acupressure offers many of the benefits of acupuncture without the needles (let’s be honest: the needles are usually the dealbreaker when it comes to acupuncture).

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Will acupuncture work for anxiety? The final verdict

Is acupuncture the answer when it comes to your own anxiety? The honest answer, of course, is “maybe.” No two people are exactly alike, and that means no two sets of anxiety symptoms are exactly alike. What works for one person is not automatically guaranteed.

With that being said, acupuncture has been proven to help patients with anxiety in one study after another. On top of that, the practice has positive word-of-mouth stretching all the way back to the ancient world. If nothing else reliably works to control your anxiety, why not try acupuncture and potentially experience a world of relief?