Having anxiety can affect every aspect of your day, including waking up, getting ready, and doing your job, and it can even stop you from having a (healthy) personal life. If you want to take control of your stress, things like meditation, exercise, and aromatherapy can help, but acupuncture for anxiety is an alternative natural treatment that might be worth looking into. "Modern stress is not the result of an assault from the elements, as it was in centuries past," says Julie Von, a New York–based holistic fertility expert who uses acupuncture to help alleviate her patients' anxiety. Instead, she says what we are seeing is a culture still trying to learn how to navigate the meeting point of technology and human life.
As modern-day living has gotten busier, anxiety has become one of the most plaguing conditions in the Western world. But what is going on in your body when anxiety strikes? When you're experiencing stress, your nervous system becomes heightened and all your hormones are affected, says Von. The good news is that studies show that acupuncture helps to get your body's hormones working properly again, thereby reducing your levels of overall anxiety. We're a little squeamish when it comes to needles, so we asked Von to walk us through what an acupuncture session for anxiety would be like with her and what we could expect as a result. Below find out everything you've always wanted to know about acupuncture for anxiety.
What should you expect during your first session?
Since there are over 400 points on the body where the needles could be put, each session will vary. But you will lie down on a massage table face-up for about 30 minutes while the needles are doing their thing. And when it comes to whether or not it hurts, it's pretty much painless, but you can sometimes feel a little tingling at the point.
Sometimes Von will rely on extras to help calm her clients down during the process, and these include essential oils, calming music, and even her special crystal light bed (yes, you read that right). "I love giving acupuncture to people for the first time and addressing their concerns and worries," says Von. "It is such a powerful and dynamic medicine that I find once a person has experienced their first session, they are hooked."
How does a session treat anxiety?
"Anxiety is a catch-all term that must be broken down to explore each person's unique experience," says Von. Sometimes she asks her patients to keep a journal of when they become anxious so they can find the root cause (she says it can take some investigation). The expert also uses meditation and conscious breathing to help patients rid their bodies of trapped tension and stress. Then the needles themselves help recalibrate the body to not react in a heightened way to stressors.
Should this be your only method of therapy?
Not necessarily, says Von. Although acupuncture and Chinese medicine take the entire body into account and can be a stand-alone treatment, she says it's all up to you. "I encourage my patients to trust their intuition, and that extends to the people who they choose to work with," says Von. So if you're already going to talk therapy, that doesn't mean you have to stop (at least not right now).
Will you feel different after your first session?
Although there are no guarantees, most people do. "Some of my patients like to call the post-acupuncture state being, 'acu stoned,' meaning that the effect is very relaxing to the body and mind and lasts for a considerable amount of time," Von says.
Have you ever used acupuncture for anxiety? If so, share your experience with us in the comments.