ANXIETY | DEPRESSION | STRESS
Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental disorders worldwide. As research continues in this area, acupuncture and other forms of complementary therapies are being shown to be effective and legitimate treatment options.
Acupuncture has been shown to increase dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels in the brain by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system. It has also been shown to increase levels of endorphins in the body.
When most people think of endorphins, they think of them being released through exercise and making us feel happy. Naturally increasing the body's endorphin levels may help explain why acupuncture is an effective treatment for depression and anxiety disorders.
Stress is a sensation of emotional, mental, or physical tension. It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, worried, or nervous. When we experience stress, it triggers our Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) aka the “fight-or-flight” response. When we are chronically locked into a fight-or-flight response, due to our perception of ongoing threats, our digestive, respiratory, cardiovascular, reproductive, and hormonal systems, as well as our brain, start to wear out.
Acupuncture calms the SNS and calls for the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) aka “rest-and-digest,” into duty. The PNS activates relaxation, digestion, and general feelings of calm and well-being. Additionally, acupuncture helps stabilize Heart Rate Variability (HRV).
HRV is the measurement of how the heart rate varies in timing between heartbeats which reflects the level of activity in the vagus nerve. The “tone,” or activity level, in the vagus nerve is an indicator of when you’re spending more time in sympathetic or parasympathetic mode. A low HRV is associated with higher incidences of heart disease, hypertension, stress, anxiety, and depression. When HRV is elevated to optimal ranges, working memory and focus is improved, blood pressure is normalized, sleep is improved, physical pain or headaches is reduced, and anxiety and depression lessens.