Stress, Anxiety & Depression

How acupuncture can help

 

Stress is a way of life for us these days. When we experience a thought or event that we perceive as stressful, our bodies begin producing hormones and neurotransmitters designed to help us respond to the stressful situation by engaging in a conflict or fleeing. This is referred to as the "fight or flight" response. 

 

This response is mediated by the sympathetic nervous system, the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, both located in the brain, and the adrenal glands, located above the kidneys. The "fight or flight" response is important for motivating us to take action and avoid danger when needed. It is meant to be a short term reaction to an acute situation that may be life-threatening. With continued or repeated stress without adequate time and resources for our bodies to recover, the "fight or flight" response can become chronic. This leads to persistent elevation of adrenal stress hormones including cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. Over time, the adrenal glands may become fatigued and stress hormone production may decrease or the daily pattern with which they are released may became disrupted. Disruptions in the production of adrenal stress hormones contribute to imbalances in other hormones and neurotransmitters including serotonin and dopamine, which can lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression.

 

Most people who get regular acupuncture treatment will tell you that they feel relaxed and peaceful during and after treatment and they also seem to handle the big and small stresses and challenges of life with greater ease.  

 

Many current researches* have demonstrated the benefit of acupuncture for treating stress, anxiety and depression. Dr. Park regularly sees patients who suffer from the effects of chronic stress, depression, and anxiety achieves significant relief with acupuncture treatment. For most patients who choose acupuncture treatment alone or in conjunction with chiropractic, an initial series of one or two times a week for 6-10 weeks treatments is recommended. After that time, treatments may be spaced out to once every 2 weeks or continued weekly treatments may be recommended depending on how the treatment is progressing. 

 

Over time as patients feel better and better, the time between visits gets longer until eventually patients only come for "tune up" treatments every one or two months to help maintain balance, or as needed when acutely stressful situation arise.

 

* A study published in March 2013, in the Journal of Endocrinology: rat experiment for cold exposure: rat with acupuncture treatment showed less stress hormone level than rats without acupuncture treatment.

* A study published in September 2013, in the online journal PLOS Medicine: acupuncture is more effective than antidepressant medication alone in the treatment of depression.