In recent months, people all over the world have had to adjust their daily routines in major and minor ways in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In Oregon and Washington, stay-at-home guidelines have urged residents to isolate themselves as much as possible in order to curb the spread of the virus. Unfortunately, even as we work to protect the physical health of ourselves and members of our community, we may face increased anxiety and other mental health issues during this unprecedented time. Elective medical appointments are now allowed in Oregon, so this is a good time to look at how acupuncture treatments can help reduce our stress levels and manage anxiety during the COVID-19 emergency.
Anxiety Levels Surging Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
Much has been written about the various impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our physical, emotional, and mental health. In particular, practicing social distancing can create feelings of isolation and loneliness, which can increase anxiety, distress, and depression. According to a poll by Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), 47 percent of respondents who were sheltering in place reported negative mental health effects triggered by anxiety or stress about the coronavirus. Additionally, many individuals and families are facing economic insecurity, so their anxiety may be exacerbated by their concerns about putting food on the table, finding a job, and other stressors. Another concern is the effect of post-traumatic stress and burnout on the mental health of frontline and essential workers.
Anxiety’s Negative Effects on Your Health
Anxiety is not just “in your head.” It is part of our body’s acute stress response (“fight-or-flight”), and it’s a natural emotion to have when we feel under threat. When we are under stress for a long time, or if our acute stress response is triggered too often, chronic anxiety can lead to negative health outcomes over time. Chronic worry and anxiety have been linked to many types of disorders and health conditions, including gastrointestinal disorders, chronic respiratory disorders, and heart disease. While some doctors may recommend drug therapy to manage anxiety, many pharmaceuticals are habit-forming and carry unwanted side-effects. There are many other ways of addressing stress and anxiety, including visualization, meditation, mindfulness, exercise, and nutritional support, as well as seeking out a mental health therapist.
How Acupuncture Can Help
Regular acupuncture sessions may provide significant, relief from anxiety. Although more research is needed, findings support the use of acupuncture as a treatment for anxiety. Studies show that the beneficial effects of acupuncture on health involve multiple mechanisms of action, including changes in neurotransmitters involved in emotional regulation, autonomic nervous system and immune modulation. An added benefit is that acupuncture is safe and rarely has side-effects.
Five Element Acupuncture Treatment for Anxiety
Five Element acupuncture is a unique, core-level approach that works holistically with your health, emotional and physical. This is especially important for treating anxiety, which is rooted in your body’s acute stress response. The initial session begins with an in-depth evaluation, discussing your health history, current struggles and goals for managing anxiety.
Your acupuncturist will recommend a customized treatment plan to address your unique needs and provide long-term relief and healing.