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Acupuncture Can Treat Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are defined as a period or periods of apprehension or fear that is of sudden onset.

According to The Anxiety and Depression Association of America Website1:

  • Anxiety disorders including panic attacks are the most common mental illness in the U.S. affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population.
  • Anxiety disorders such as panic attacks are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment.
  • People with an anxiety disorder are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those who do not suffer from anxiety disorders.
  • It’s not uncommon for someone with an anxiety disorder such as panic attacks to also suffer from depression or vice versa. Nearly one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
  • Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.

Panic attacks are often frightening, and many first-time sufferers confuse these attacks with a heart attack or a nervous breakdown. In many cases, they seek help in the emergency room only to be told there is nothing physically wrong.

During a panic attack your body is experiencing the 'fight or flight' response associated with the body's Sympathetic Nervous System. This is the body's normal biological response to an immediate and possible life threatening danger and causes the adrenal glands to flood the body with adrenaline. This allows a body to perform sometimes superhuman feats of strength such as lifting a car that has crashed on top of a person.

The obvious problem with this is that a panic attack is often triggered for no apparent reason. The human body was not designed to have these 'fight or flight' reactions daily or even multiple times a day.

The symptoms of panic attacks are varied but include: a sense of impending doom, chest tightness, hot flashes, feeling faint, hyperventilation, tunnel vision, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, fear of losing control, dizziness, a strong urge to escape, unexplained massive feeling or anxiety and more.

There are many known triggers/causes of panic attacks. Some are:

  • Inherited-empirical evidence shows that it appears to run in some families.
  • Biological- those who suffer from hypoglycemia, OCD, PTSD and hyperthyroidism can have panic attacks as well.
  • Phobias- certain phobic situations can trigger them.
  • Significant life change- loss of a loved one, end of a relationship, a move to a new city or a new job.
  • Random situations- some are situational bound and once a person suffers an attack in a location such as work, classical conditioning may occur and then just thinking about the location such as work can trigger a panic attack.
  • Stress- any stress such as work, family, relationship, etc.
  • Lack of assertiveness- growing evidence supports the idea that those with a passive communication style are more prone to panic attacks.

You no longer have to suffer from Panic Attacks! Acupuncture for panic attacks, especially Classical Five Element Acupuncture, can help manage and even eliminate panic attacks.

Acupuncture for panic attacks treatments, in their most simplistic form, are known to increase relaxation, reduce stress and bring the body back into balance. And, as we know, a balanced body is a healthy body.

A skilled acupuncturist will assess the patient’s health physically, mentally and spiritually in order to choose the best treatment approach.

Through continued acupuncture treatment, the causes of a person's panic attacks can be uncovered and resolved. As patients heal, they start to make changes in their lives that reduce or remove the panic causing stimulus from their lives, thus reducing or eliminating the panic attacks.

Many panic attack suffers seek medical intervention via prescription medications as well as psychotherapy. Acupuncture is a great addition to these therapies and when used together can speed resolution leading to a point where the medications can be reduced or even eliminated. There is some promising research that combining acupuncture with an SSRI can accelerate the onset and long term effects of the SSRI.2

There is also growing case based evidence that acupuncture can successfully treat Panic Disorder. One recent case report demonstrated successful resolution of panic attacks via scalp acupuncture treatments. 3

One final note:

All of us occasionally worry about things like health, money, or family problems. But people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) are extremely worried about these and many other things, even when there is little or no reason to worry about them. They are very anxious about just getting through the day. They think things will always go badly. At times, worrying keeps people with GAD from doing everyday tasks.4




1Facts & Statistics | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA. (2014, September). Retrieved January 31, 2016, from http://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics

2Liu, Y., Feng, H., Gao, Y., Mao, H., Song, M., Wang, S., Yin, Y.,Liu, W. (2015, October). Effect of soothing-liver and nourishing- heart acupuncture on early selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor treatment onset for depressive disorder and related indicators of neuroimmunology: A randomized controlled clinical trial. Retrieved January 31, 2016, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26591679

3He, Y., Chen, J., Pan, Z., & Ying, Z. (2014, July). Scalp acupuncture treatment protocol for anxiety disorders: A case report. Retrieved January 31, 2016, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25105075

4Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2016, from             http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/generalized-anxiety-disorder- gad/index.shtml