Home / Acupuncture Can Reduce Chronic Stress

Anxiety disorders rank as the highest form of mental illnesses affecting the U.S populace. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 57 million adults above the age of 18 are dealing with one anxiety disorder or the other. This makes up 18% of the total population of the country. According to the National Comorbidity Survey Replication Study the numbers are generally the same as the survey shows that 18.1% of U.S citizens deal with some sort of stress disorder at any given time of the year. The statistic is also corroborated by the fact that 5.7% of the population suffers from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) (Kessler, Chiu, Demler, & Walters, 2005). One of the most prevalent of these disorders is chronic stress disorder.

What amounts to chronic stress?

acupuncture-treats-chronic-stress-in boca-raton

Acupuncture reduces chronic stress and anxiety by regulating cortisol levels in the body

Chronic stress results from the ongoing emotional pressure that an individual is subjected to, often accompanied by the feeling that they have no way out. Stress is accompanied by a biochemical response where the endocrine system releases corticosteroids, which are stress hormones. While the short-term release of these hormones is good for the individual, release over a long period of time causes a buildup of the hormones in the body. In a study, Roesch SC et al. show that chronic stress is a trigger for a number of other conditions such as stroke, coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease and risk factors of the diseases like diabetes and hypertension (Roesch SC et al. 2014).

A certain amount of stress is okay to help us forge on and challenge us when we come across difficult situations. However, in the case of chronic stress, the syndrome reduces the quality of life drastically and can even be a cause of death. The biochemical, physiological and behavioral changes are the main dangers that erode the patient’s quality of life.

What causes stress?

Stress is the typical response in a difficult situation. It is the body’s way of responding to dangerous situations. Whether the situations are real or imagined does not matter; once the body registers that there is a danger, the flight or fight response occurs.

The stress response is good for you and might even save your life in some situations. The response serves to keep you alert, focused and energetic, which comes in handy in situations where you need to give your best to succeed. It can also give you the energy to fight or run away to live another day. It is the same thing that happens when you have to apply the brakes suddenly to avoid an accident. In such scenarios where the crisis ends after a short period of time, you can easily dispel the excess hormones through normal activity after dealing with the stressful situation. However, if it goes beyond these short-lived moments, stress develops into a condition that can affect every aspect of your life.

Symptoms of chronic stress

A stress overload is tough to detect on your own even though others may see some very visible signs of it. Stress is said to creep up on the person going through it. The first thing that causes this and encourages it is the fact that sufferers often get used to it. As such, it is important to acquaint yourself with all the signs of the condition.

The array of warning signs is multifaceted as there are observable indicators that include physical, emotional, cognitive and behavioral changes.

The Physical changes include:

  • Rapid heart rate and chest pain
  • Nausea and dizziness
  • A lack of sex drive
  • Constipation and diarrhea
  • Recurrent colds and flu

Emotional indicators include the following; 

  • Isolation and loneliness
  • Irritability, moodiness and anger
  • Agitation and anxiety

The Cognitive indicators for chronic stress include;

  • Poor judgement
  • Becoming pessimistic
  • Constant worrying
  • Lack of concentration
  • Racing thoughts that cause anxiety
  • Failing memory

Behavioral changes involved with the condition include;

  • Erratic eating patterns
  • Neglecting responsibilities and procrastinating
  • Nervous tendencies like pacing or chewing fingernails
  • Withdrawal from the public
  • Using drugs and alcohol as a way to relax

Western treatments of the condition

In a recent study, Lieb et al. point out that chronic stress is treatable but the prevention of repeat visits is the toughest part to deal with. According to the study, the condition is detected late and the patients are not given treatment that can last long, resulting to band-aid solutions. One of the most common prescriptions drugs for the condition is benzodiazepines (Lieb, Becker, and Altamura, 2005).These are prescription drugs to which users can easily get addicted, forming a dependency. The use of prescription drugs in treating chronic stress has increased a dependency on valium, which is also used for alleviating symptoms.

Another reason the condition is not usually fully treated is because it takes therapy, which most patients do not want to go through to completion. There are many instances where chronic stress can be treated through therapy but patients stay away from it due to the stigma that follows. Such therapy may involve sessions that run for a lengthy period such as 6-8 weeks.

Research pointing to acupuncture as a viable treatment for chronic stress

There have been numerous research studies showing that Acupuncture has positive effects when administered to people dealing with chronic stress. This is especially focused on acupuncture as a form of stress-relieving therapy. In one study, Insop Shim et al. used acupuncture to reduce the behavioral responses that come with CORT injection. The research, carried out for 19 days, was based on inducing stress symptoms by injecting mice with 40mg/kg of CORT. Observations were made through measuring the CORT levels in plasma after acupuncture was administered. The levels were seen to have reduced significantly in the group that used acupuncture as a form of treatment aside from pharmaceutical options (Insop Shim et al. 2009).

In another study, Judith Howie et al. demonstrated the benefits of acupuncture in reducing the symptoms of stress in adults. The participants were divided into 3 groups. The first group had acupuncture as part of the treatment with the second using conventional methods and the third serving as a control. In the study, which ran for 5 weeks, the first group experienced improved conditions higher than those for the second group, while the third group did not experience any change. In the study, there came about some self-reports of acupuncture treating another ailment that was not the focus of the study (Judith Howie et al. 2011).

At Boca Raton Acupuncture we have successfully treated many cases of chronic stress and anxiety over the years. We are confident we can help you. Give us a call today and schedule your free consultation.

 

Resources:

  •  Kessler, R. C., Chiu, W. T., Demler, O., & Walters, E. E. (2005). Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of twelve-month DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R). Archives of General Psychiatry, 62, 617–627. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.62.6.617.Prevalence
  • Lieb, R., Becker, E., & Altamura, C. (2005). The epidemiology of generalized anxiety disorder in Europe. European Neuropsychopharmacology, 15(4), 445–452. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.euroneuro.2005.04.010
  • Roesch SC et al. (2014). Associations of chronic stress burden, perceived stress, and traumatic stress with cardiovascular disease prevalence and risk factors in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos Sociocultural Ancillary Study.
  • Weidong Huang, Judith Howie, Alyx Taylor, and Nicola Robinson. (2011). An investigation into the effectiveness of traditional Chinese acupuncture (TCA) for chronic stress in adults: A randomized controlled pilot study
  • https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-symptoms-signs-and-causes.html
  • http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/understanding-chronic-stress.aspx