Anxiety is not a disease or illness, but rather a psychological and physiological state indicated by excessive and exaggerated nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying. While we all might experience these emotions as an occasional response to a stressful situation, anxiety becomes a problem when it arises without obvious reason, is persistent and overwhelming, and disturbs your mental and physical functioning to the point of affecting your daily life, activities, and relationships.
Anxiety disorders can be classified into 6 major types: generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social anxiety disorder. Mental symptoms commonly associated with anxiety disorders include feeling restless, tense or angry, experiencing sensations of panic or doom, obsessive thoughts, irritability, impatience, and poor concentration. Physical expressions of anxiety can include fatigue, disturbed sleep, headaches, jaw, upper back, neck, and shoulder muscle tension and pain, chest tightness, tics and tremors, nausea, indigestion, bloating, and excessive sweating. Many anxiety sufferers also typically experience depression at some point, which tends to exacerbate anxiety and vice versa.
The most common class of anti-anxiety medications are benzodiazepines, such as Ativan, Klonopin, Valium, and Xanax, which are often very effective for temporary relief. However, benzodiazepines are slow to metabolize, and long-term use can damage the liver and accumulate in the body, resulting in over-sedation, fatigue, drowsiness, slow reflexes, dizziness or lightheadedness, blurry or double vision, confusion and disorientation, impaired thinking, memory problems, and depression.
Because of the adverse side-effects associated with conventional medical approach to managing anxiety disorders, many patients choose to explore other solutions. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy offer a natural and effective way of addressing the condition without any harmful side-effects make Chinese medicine a preferred alternative approach to the treatment of anxiety.
Acupuncture can effectively alleviate stress by initiating biochemical changes that affect the homeostatic mechanisms to stimulate endorphin release, reduce cortisol and adrenaline levels, improve blood circulation and tissue oxygenating, calm the nervous system, reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, decrease heart rate, lower blood pressure, relax tension, and promote physical and emotional well-being.
For many patients with mild to severe anxiety, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine combined with relevant lifestyle modifications offer a natural, highly effective, safe, and drug-free approach to treatment. In severe cases, Chinese medicine can be used in conjunction junction with conventional methods to support treatment and ameliorate the adverse side-effects of the medications.
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