My experience with anxiety started in my mid-20’s. Coincidentally, it started to build around the time I started working in my career as an attorney. Maybe that’s not a coincidence? This article is about treating anxiety with acupuncture.
My career as an attorney hasn’t been the easiest. I don’t know that it’s easy for any attorney! There’s a lot of work, including hearings, research, writing, meeting with clients, interacting with coworkers, and everything in between. I’ve been at it for 11 years now.
When I first started feeling anxiety, it was centered in my chest and I could feel it physically. At this point, it was mild and I managed my stress by drinking and having fun on the weekends. Those were the days – young and carefree! I didn’t think about work one bit on the weekend.
After I stopped drinking seven years ago, the anxiety was still there but my coping mechanism was not. So, I really had to step up and figure out the source of my stress and anxiety before it became too overpowering. I also wanted to use alternative methods to cope.
Here is my experience treating anxiety with acupuncture.
Acupuncture as an alternative therapy
The practice of acupuncture originated in China and has been around for thousands of years. (Source) More recently, acupuncture has become more popular as an alternative therapy method in the United States.
Acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into very specific points or pathways on the body. These are also called meridians. An acupuncture practitioner has knowledge of the various acupuncture points and can determine where to insert the needles to treat specific ailments.
Traditionally, acupuncture focuses on aligning and balancing the energy body, or chi. (Source) Rebalancing energy promotes overall wellness, which can have positive benefits for stress and anxiety management.
Why did I want to treat my anxiety with acupuncture?
I tend to lean toward more natural, holistic treatment rather than medication, if possible. Sometimes, I realize that’s not possible, like when I was experiencing postpartum anxiety.
- Related reading: Treating postpartum anxiety with self-compassion and Paxil
Also, I knew a number of people who had personally benefitted from acupuncture treatment for various ailments. I thought to myself, it couldn’t hurt to try, right?
Finding a local acupuncturist
I found a local acupuncture provider by reading Google reviews and scouring local providers’ business websites. Reviews will tell you everything about the skill of a practitioner and the satisfaction of the clientele.
You can also check out Groupon for discount deals or the Nextdoor app for local referrals.
My acupuncture treatment
Similar to any therapeutic treatment, the practitioner will want to know why you’re there, what you want to focus on, and what your goals are in seeking acupuncture. I also had to fill out a bunch of paperwork for her records.
When I told her that I wanted to focus on overall wellbeing and treating my anxiety, she did ask about the source of my stress and anxiety. So, I did my best to articulate where my anxiety came from, my symptoms, and any other information she might find helpful.
What happens during a session?
At the beginning of every session, the acupuncturist wanted an update on my energy levels, stressors, and pain in my body. She tells me her goals for treatment at the beginning of each session based on our interview.
Then, I will get on the massage bed and she will place 20-25 needles in acupuncture points on my body. Needle insertion is painless. Sometimes, there is an uncomfortable pinch but that is far and few between.
Once all of the needles are in place, I relax and lie there for 40-50 minutes. During that time, I’ll meditate or focus on the different sensations in my body. Sometimes, I can feel the energy shift in my body.
After the session is over, the practitioner will come into the room and take out the acupuncture needles.
How often do you go to acupuncture to treat anxiety?
The acupuncturist recommended a course of treatment that involved coming weekly for one month, then slowly tapering off to two weeks, then three weeks, and so on.
I definitely felt a reduction in my anxiety after two to three sessions. My symptoms, such as chest heaviness, worrying, and clammy hands, began to lessen. It happened very gradually as my body got used to the acupuncture treatments.
One day, after a month or so of treatment, I suddenly realized that I had no anxiety. At the time, it was pretty huge for me because I felt anxiety every single day.
Of course, even after treating anxiety with acupuncture, stressors will still come. That’s just a part of life. Now, I notice that stress affects me less. Sometimes, I’ll feel a slight pang on my chest like my body wants to go back to that physical sensation of chest heaviness but it never does.
Once your anxiety has lessened significantly, my acupuncturist always recommends coming in whenever I feel that I need a maintenance session.
Is acupuncture expensive?
I live in a low cost of living state, so acupuncture sessions range from $50 to $100 for a typical 60 to 90 minute session.
Most health insurance plans cover a certain number of sessions per year for alternative therapies like acupuncture and chiropractic treatment. These usually require a copay.
Acupuncture is an eligible expense for flex spending and health savings accounts, which can reduce your treatment costs significantly. (Source)
Final thoughts on treating anxiety with acupuncture
I had a very positive experience treating anxiety with acupuncture. The treatments also helped me with overall well-being and increased energy levels.
When you’re looking for an acupuncturist, definitely read reviews in your area or get a referral from someone you know. Check into your health insurance plan to see if it offers coverage for alternative therapies like acupuncture.
It took me just a few treatment sessions to notice a difference in my anxiety. Although I am not completely free of anxiety now, it’s definitely much milder than it was before getting acupuncture.