It takes time to feel the benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy and/or to find the Western medication(s) that work best for a person’s specific symptoms. Many people with anxiety disorders find that they’re unable or unwilling to submit to trial-and-error medication treatment and are concerned about possible side effects and risks. Antidepressants, for example, require long-term use. Benzodiazepines, which are often prescribed for panic attacks, are highly addictive and can cause serious withdrawal symptoms.
Acupuncture is an option that may be the ideal combination of low-risk treatment and valuable results. Research has shown that acupuncture treatment can act on areas of the brain known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress. It can also promote relaxation and deactivate the “analytical” brain, which is the area linked to anxiety and worry. Acupuncture has been used to treat many forms of anxiety disorders (including PTSD and GAD), and can be used in combination with medication or therapy treatments. In fact, acupuncture may enhance the benefits of conventional treatments; according to a 2011 review published by the journal CNS Neuroscience and Therapeutics, “There is evidence that acupuncture is comparable with CBT [cognitive behavioral therapy] … but in a setting and environment in which most patients seem to find less stressful, and are well known to access voluntarily in preference to regular medical avenues.”