Boulder Acupuncturist Explains: How to Treat Anxiety the Natural Way

As an acupuncturist in Boulder, CO specializing in mental health and autoimmune disorders I work with a lot of people managing anxiety. No two cases of anxiety are the same. Because my approach to treating illness is holistic, I focus on the unique needs of each individual. Also, acupuncture inherently works towards resolving the underlying issues causing the symptoms a person is facing, rather than just alleviating the symptoms and therefore requires a personal approach.

I will never forget the debilitating discomfort and confusion I experienced when I was coping with anxiety.

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The tightness in my chest and my spinning mind would paralyze me from making any forward motion. This reinforced the sense of helplessness and eroded my self-esteem adding to the self-deprecating chatter of my mind. For me anxiety crept in suddenly after I started graduate school. I was confused at first because it was so unfamiliar. I never thought of myself as an anxious person. Overall I was happy and excited about life, but then it would hit me and I would feel unsure and shaky.

Treating anxiety with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine

I was studying acupuncture and Chinese medicinal herbs in graduate school, so it was only natural to turn the school’s training clinic for treatment. I vividly remember feeling like myself again for first time after an acupuncture treatment - grounded, clear-headed, and strong. I made steady progress towards a sense of renewed confidence in my ability to navigate life. Over the years, I’ve accrued additional tools to manage my day-to-day stress, and the ability to recognize when I’m headed towards anxiety again and take pro-active steps to prevent it.

When working with people I always go through a number of steps to allow people to reclaim their lives and live a life free from anxiety. My goal is always to empower people with skills and tools in multiple arenas, from diet and lifestyle to meditation techniques, to face life with grace.

After doing a comprehensive intake to identify physiological, psychological, and social elements involved, the initial step is to regulate the nervous system and create “windows of calm” to allow the person in treatment some relief and reprieve.

How Acupuncture can be used to treat anxiety

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Acupuncture excels in its ability to gently shift a hyperactive anxious nervous system from the sympathetic “fight-or-flight” state into the calm parasympathetic “rest-and-digest” state. This state of deep tranquility is revitalizing and allows for a reprieve from stress. It is a reminder of how good it is possible to feel. Acupuncture also reminds the mind and body how to shift from one state to another without any active effort from the participant.

Along with nervous system regulation we generate a comprehensive step-by-step plan to ensure steady maintainable progress towards better health and freedom from anxiety, with an eye towards preventing future bouts of anxiety as well. This is generally different from person to person and is based upon the underlying causes that have lead to their current situation.

Case Studies for treatment of anxiety and Chinese herbal medicine in Boulder, CO

Acupuncture Case Study 1:

Person A coming in for anxiety is a woman who had her first child four months ago. She returned to work after 10 weeks of maternity leave, but is struggling all around with everything. She feels like she’s always behind, and she feels guilty about being away from her new child, underperforming at work, and not being the wife she used to be. Her baby recently started sleeping long stretches, but nonetheless she find herself waking up throughout the night and often her mind is spinning and she cannot get back to sleep. She has a decent social circle, but doesn’t see her friends as often as she’d like. Her relationship with her husband is good, but strained, and she doesn’t feel like he’s as supportive or involved as he could be around home responsibilities and child-rearing.

There are a number of different elements at play in this scenario. Overall, this woman is depleted and needs support and replenishment. Acupuncture will naturally and easily regulate her nervous system to improve her sleep, calm her mind, and strengthen her body. Medicinal herbs will help to replenish her body after giving birth as she nourishes a baby. It is essential to explore diet with sensitivity to the difficulties of making changes in this arena, so the focus would be on practical suggestion (both nutritionally and with regards to preparation - think crockpot stew). Incorporating rituals to create calming rhythms in her life would be helpful as well. These could be as simple as journaling, lighting candles at dinner time, scheduling in time to connect with her partner, taking baths, or having a regular time to connect with friends. The intention is to make small changes that have a big impact and create a foundational feeling of support. To bring more comfort and nourishment into her life. We also explore meditation and visualization techniques.

Acupuncture Case Study 2:

Person B is a 21 year old male college junior dealing with anxiety. He drinks a lot, especially on weekends. His relationship with his girlfriend has been rocky and his course load this semester is particularly difficult. He exercises a lot and says it’s the one thing that helps him feel calm. Otherwise, he notices he’s angsty, angry, and even aggressive. He mostly eats sandwiches and pizza, and often skips breakfast. He’s happy overall, but hasn’t been feeling quite as satisfied with life lately. He’s also starting to feel nervous about what he’ll do after he graduates.

A young man, who gets relief from exercise and tends towards anger and aggression, has a system that is robust, as opposed to depleted. Rather than replenish his system, acupuncture would be used to down-regulate and clear excess energy. Supporting his detoxification systems and discussing lifestyle and diet choices is also essential. Nutrition that supports his body and mind and the ensures more regular blood sugar levels can help him avoid mood swings and coaching around his relationship may elucidate interpersonal communication skills that would improve connections. Once again, mindfulness practices would be an important part of alleviating anxiety long-term.

Next Steps...

If you or a loved one live in Boulder, CO and are interested in seeing if acupuncture or Chinese herbal medicine can help treat your anxiety schedule a free initial consultation now.