Panic Attacks And Acupuncture: An Alternative Treatment

June 27, 2013

Panic attack

by Ryan Rivera

While the Bay area is a great place to live, it’s not without its stresses. Many people struggle with stress and anxiety daily, and some of those people experience stress so severe that it culminates to panic attacks. Aubrey Huff of the San Francisco Giants made headlines last year when he was sidelined for hours as a result of a severe panic attack, and thousands of less famous residents suffer from these attacks regularly to the point where they need serious intervention.

Panic attacks are complicated anxiety problems. They’re not just an issue with stress and anxiety. They’re also a problem with “over-sensitivity” – where the mind becomes overly focused on physical sensations to the point where it notices each and every change in the way your body feels, and those sensations end up triggering panic attacks. That’s what makes acupuncture as a panic attack treatment so interesting, because it can potentially help control not only the anxiety, but also the sensitivity that triggers episodes of panic.

The Benefits of Acupuncture for Panic Attacks

In order to treat panic attacks, you have to first combat anxiety and stress, and then follow that up with some type of solution that counters some of the anxiety attack triggers – for example, minor aches and pains, an increased heart rate, etc. That’s one of the reasons I’ve always been fond of acupuncture. Acupuncture has specific points on the body (which can vary depending on your stresses) that are known to promote significant mental wellness. Acupuncturists often have different views on which points to use depending on their training, but you’ll find that such points may include:  ST 30,  LIV 13, P 4, HE 5, and P 6

These are the areas that reduce issues like heart palpitations, mania, tension, and more. They’re the release points for a variety of anxiety-related symptoms and issues, and some of many that are linked to providing the body with considerably more resistant to anxiety and stress.

However, in addition to the basic anxiety relief points, acupuncture can be used to address other issues as well, and may have some additional benefits beyond reducing anxiety and stress symptoms that can help you overcome your panic attack issues.

Acupuncture and Focus

One of the main problems with panic attacks is that the more reminders you have about your panic attacks, the more likely you are to get one. This is because thinking about panic attacks can cause panic attacks. The more distracted you are, the less likely a panic attack will occur.

Taking medications every day or going to therapy regularly may have some advantages, but they also force you to remind yourself that you suffer from panic disorder, which of course increases the likelihood that you’ll think about your symptoms and create a new attack. On the other hand, while you may need to attend regular acupuncture treatments, it is also not something you need to address daily. This will help ensure that you’re not overly focused on it, so that when you’re living without stress you’re not as reminded of your panic.

Acupuncture and Reducing Physical Sensations

Similarly, acupuncture can potentially stop some of the physical sensations that cause panic attacks beyond those related directly to anxiety. For example, if you often feel that your legs are weak, and when you feel this way you have a panic attack, then by addressing this directly (ie, using acupuncture to prevent leg weakness) you’ll decrease the frequency of your physical sensations and ultimately have fewer issues that cause attacks.

Using Acupuncture as an Alternative Panic Attack Treatment

For all of these reasons, acupuncture has become a very interesting method of treating anxiety and panic, and is growing in popularity within the Bay Area.

Any anxiety treatment needs to incorporate lifestyle changes that contribute to anxiety. Fatty foods, obesity, a lack of exercise, and working in a stressful environment are all issues that will always cause some anxiety. Make sure that you’ve examined the ways that you yourself have increased your own anxiety symptoms, because while acupuncture (and any anxiety treatment) can reduce anxiety, they cannot stop you from contributing to it without your own willingness to commit to life changes.

But when you’ve made those changes, there are several reasons that acupuncture may be to your advantage when you suffer from panic attacks. Find an acupuncturist you trust, and you may find that your panic attacks drastically decrease in overall frequency and severity for weeks at a time.

Image CreditLuis Sánchez