Anxiety is a feeling we can get when our body responds to a frightening or threatening experience. It is sometimes called the 'fight or flight' response. It is simply the process of your body preparing for action, either to fight danger or run from it as fast as possible. The purpose of the physical symptoms of anxiety therefore is to prepare your body to cope with threat.
There are many reasons why someone becomes anxious:
- some people may have an anxious personality and have 'learned to worry'
- other people may have a series of stressful life events to cope with, eg bereavements, divorce, redundancy
- some people may be under pressure at work or at home, for example, because of bills or family problems
Sometimes anxiety can go on indefinitely and become a long term problem. There can be a number of reasons for this:
- sometimes people have ongoing stresses over a number of years, which means that they develop the habit of being anxious
- It is possible for a vicious cycle of anxiety to develop. As the bodily symptoms of anxiety can be frightening, unpleasant and unusual, people often react by thinking that there is something physically wrong or that something really bad is going to happen. This in itself causes more symptoms and so the cycle develops
Anxiety as a problem can become hard to deal with when the symptoms are:
- severe and unpleasant
- going on for too long
- happening too often
- stopping someone from doing what they want to do
- causing the person to worry that there is something seriously wrong
(Includes material taken from the Newcastle, Tyne and Wear self help leaflet on anxiety, included in www.patient.co.uk
There are various orthodox and complementary approaches to helping people with anxiety.
Traditional Treatments for Anxiety
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.
Chinese medicine (of which acupuncture is a part), considers signs and symptoms to be a sign of deeper energetic disharmony within the human system, and has its own diagnostic system through which to understand an individual’s imbalance.
This additional perspective is a valuable part of the Acupuncture process, and together with a western understanding of anxiety enables the Acupuncturist to provide a truly individual treatment. Acupuncture treatments are directed both at reducing symptoms and also resolving the underlying energetic imbalance for a more lasting effect.
Many people are surprised at how relaxing acupuncture is and find that each acupuncture session provides an opportunity to return to a relatively calm and tranquil state of being, and as part of an appropriate course of treatment offers potential stepping stones on the path to recovery.
Fact sheets can be found on the British Acupuncture Council website www.acupuncture.org.uk including those about Anxiety, Depression, Insomnia, Menopausal symptoms, Stress.