Up to half a million people in the UK experience work-related stress every year, this often results in illness. Other factors that affect stress levels include alcohol, smoking, exams, pregnancy, divorce, moving, death in family, lifestyle, drugs, poor nutrition and unemployment.
The signs of stress can vary hugely from person to person. They may manifest physically as an illness, tiredness or lethargy, or as symptoms such as sore, tight muscles, dull skin, lank hair, or erratic sleep patterns. Mental stress can result in depression, mood swings, anger, frustration, confusion, paranoid behaviour, jealousy or withdrawal.
Conventional treatments include medication such as anti-anxiety drugs, cognitive behavioural therapy and relaxation techniques.
How acupuncture can help …
Stress is a common complaint cited by acupuncture patients, with a variety of possible associated symptoms. The most prevalent of these is anxiety. However other conditions that stressed people frequently talk about are such as back pain, chronic pain, depression, headache, insomnia, migraines and neck pain.
There is little clinical research on stress per se apart from the above conditions. One study found that traditional acupuncture is just as effective as talking therapies and more effective than drugs for depression.
In general, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neuro-chemical messenger molecules. The resulting biochemical changes influence the body's homeostatic mechanisms, thus promoting physical and emotional well-being. Stimulation of certain acupuncture points has been shown to affect areas of the brain that are known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress.
Acupuncture for back and neck pain is thought to provide pain relief stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, releasing endorphins and other substances in the nervous / hormonal system. It is believed to reduce inflammation by releasing vascular and immuno-modulatory factors, and also improving muscle stiffness and joint mobility - by increasing local micro-circulation.
For more information about stress or other conditions and how acupuncture can help please see the British Acupuncture Council:
Our acupuncturists here at the Centre also happy to discuss with you any issues that you may have. For more information please see our page on acupuncture.