what happened when i tried acupuncture for anxiety
Turns out, I suffered from increasing anxiety in the later part of my twenties, spilling right over into my thirties and causing a big ol’ messy puddle.
Only, I didn’t know that’s what it actually was.
Not until on the morning before heading off to The Maldives when I found myself caught up in an uncontrollable state of panic and I realised I had a pretty serious problem.
Kayleigh, we have a problem
Everyone else seems to do these things with no worries, or at least it looks that way.
But the minute I try? Oh, that’s when I discover some pretty intense underlying levels of severe travel anxiety bubbling away under the surface, like a volcano ready to erupt and paralyse any future plans to travel to any destinations like that again.
Okay, so you could say I’m one of the lucky ones, in that The Maldives revealed an underlaying problem whereas it could have happened in the middle of Tesco, I get it.
My complete, unexpected meltdown on the morning before we had to leave for the airport came on so quickly and powerfully I honestly don’t know how I even went through with it.
Any holiday that required a long flight incurred months of suffering.
It kept getting worse and worse until one day - BANG - I’d really had enough.
finding help - there is no need to suffer
Up until the time I decided to actually deal with it though, I’d tried battling through which seemed the ‘bravest’ option and the only option which seemed available to me at the time.
Truthfully, all that really did was invite other stressors and triggers in where they started latching on to other areas of my life and causing even more problems.
2018 was a year of self discovery for me and I took some much needed time to take stock of who I am, why my mind works the way it does and who I want to be going forward.
I’d been letting my anxiety make me feel useless, fragile and unhappy for long enough and one of the treatments I sought out for trying to manage this thing was acupuncture.
put the needle on it
I’ve learned stress and anxiety are completely natural responses from our bodies and we are equipped with these responses for a reason and are very useful in helping us to identify an imbalance which needs dealing with.
I’ve also learned that acupuncture is an effective, natural way to reset your nervous system and restore the balance, which makes it a wonderful option for managing anxiety (and a whole load of other things, but I won’t get into that).
Of course, our bodies are fantastic for helping us deal with fear with our natural fight and flight, but in this day and age there is no need for it to kick off so regularly and it just causes us inconvenience.
Our bodies are magnificent and I believe they are absolutely capable of coping with the conflict life can sometimes throw/launch/hurl at us, it’s just sometimes we don’t quite have confidence in that capability which is when fear and anxiety come strolling in and takes over.
I’ve tried medication and whilst of course that’s always an option, I’d prefer to find a solution which has longevity and removes the problem in the long run without heavy reliance on tablets or pills.
So, this is what happened when I tried acupuncture.
What is acupuncture and how does it work?
I was originally referred for my very first session of acupuncture for my shoulder which was in a constant state of locked tension (very painful) and I learnt from my acupuncture therapist in general conversation that it’s also a very effective treatment for stress.
If you’re unfamiliar with the practice of acupuncture like I was, it’s the system of ancient Chinese medicine whereby very fine, small sterile needles are inserted into the skin at specific response points throughout the body (known as acu-points). These points are considered to be directly associated with the energy within the body and are used to treat various mental conditions like stress, anxiety, insomnia and physical conditions like nausea, injury recovery, aches, pains and muscle tension and so on.
By ‘wiggling’ the needle at the acupoint, the muscle is stimulated and ‘grabs’ the needle and you feel a subtle dull ache which means the needles are ready and in place. This practice works by improving and restoring efficient bodily function (in my case it was resetting my stress response reaction time, which is extremely quick - not ideal) and it helps promote the natural self-healing process.
I lay flat on the table / bed and let my therapist know when the ache starts to occur and she knows that needle is set and moves onto the next to repeat the same process until you’re ready to ‘rest and reset’.
I’m naturally inquisitive and like to ask questions. My lovely therapist Sue is very patient and is happy to explain what’s happening and why. She said to think of it as two test tubes - one contains your calm and the other contains the opposite - but for whichever reason they are not level and acupuncture works like shaking the tubes up and allowing the contents to settle back to an effective balance.
Where are the needles inserted for anxiety and stress?
I never gave this much thought initially before my appointment, but unlike my shoulder pain where the needles were inserted in various areas around my shoulder itself, my therapist explained she would insert two needles into each wrist and one on the inner area of my elbow as these are direct lines of energy and work within a short amount of time to calm the mind.
What can you expect afterwards?
I think this has worked absolute wonders and these treatments coincide with other methods of anxiety resolution that I’ve been trying - go hard or go home and all that!
This is my second treatment and both times I’ve driven home afterwards in a complete daze (I don’t live far thankfully!) and the rest of that day is spent in a state of doziness which is an oddly pleasant feeling.
In the days that follow I start to feel in control and the unsettling feelings of stress that are usually there simmering away ready to pounce have somehow subsided.
There isn’t really a difference between the results from one session or the other, they’ve both been as effective and because I am quite in tune with my inner self I have definitely sensed a shift toward the right direction.
Does it hurt?
Not at all, you feel the tiniest little pinch from the needle for about a second but it’s not worth worrying about as it barely registers, the needles are so fine.
How long are the needles in for?
You don’t want to overcook yourself so my therapist usually leaves me for about 20 minutes, otherwise I’ll be good for nothing for the rest of the day!
What results can you expect?
Pleasantly tired, calm, at peace and balance has been restored which is not something I’ve felt very often and it’s wonderful.
I would recommend this to anybody who suffers with the debilitating effects of stress and anxiety. I will continue having these sessions until I feel my anxious patterns of behaviour have changed for good, which if I’m honest I don’t think is all that far off (that’s how effective I’ve found it).