Stress / Anxiety
Since COVID-19 hit us hard in 2020 we all can relate with the stress this has had on our everyday lives. Other factors that affect stress levels include alcohol, smoking, exams, pregnancy, divorce, moving, death in family, lifestyle, drugs, poor nutrition and unemployment.
The signs of stress can vary from one individual to the next. It may manifest physically as an illness, tiredness or lethargy, or as symptoms such as sore, tight muscles, dull skin, lank hair, or erratic sleep patterns. Mental stress can result in depression, mood swings, anger, frustration, confusion, paranoid behaviour, jealousy or withdrawal.
Acupuncture can help with a variety of possible associated symptoms. The most prevalent of these is anxiety. However stress can manifest as back pain, chronic pain, depression, headache, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, menopausal symptoms, migraines, premenstrual syndrome and urinary incontinence.
In general, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. The resulting biochemical changes influence the body’s homeostatic mechanisms, thus promoting physical and emotional well-being.
Research has shown that acupuncture treatment may specifically benefit stress /anxiety disorders and symptoms by:
- Acting on areas of the brain known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promoting relaxation and deactivating the ‘analytical’ brain, which is responsible for anxiety.
- Improving stress induced memory impairment and an increasing AchE reactivity in the hippocampus.
- Reducing serum levels of corticosterone and the number of tyrosine hydroxylase-immunoreactive cells.
- Regulating levels of neurotransmitters (or their modulators) and hormones such as serotonin, noradrenaline, dopamine, GABA, neuropeptide Y and ACTH.
- Stimulating production of endogenous opioids that affect the autonomic nervous system.
- Reversing pathological changes in levels of inflammatory cytokines that are associated with stress reactions.
- Reducing inflammation, by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors.
- Reversing stress-induced changes in behaviour and biochemistry.