According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 13.6% of Australians reported experiencing anxiety in 2017-18. Women were more likely to report experiencing anxiety than men (16.9% compared to 10.3%). According to the ABS, 25% of Australians reported experiencing stress in 2017-18. Women were more likely to report experiencing stress than men (28.5% compared to 21.6%).
Stress and anxiety can have a significant impact on mental health. Beyond Blue reports that anxiety disorders are the most common mental health condition in Australia, affecting around 2 million people each year. Untreated anxiety can lead to depression, substance abuse, and other mental health issues.
Chronic stress and anxiety can also have a negative impact on physical health. According to the Australian Psychological Society (APS), 72% of Australians who report high levels of stress experience physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and muscle tension. The APS also reports that stress and anxiety can increase the risk of developing chronic health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders.
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Stress and Anxiety
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers a holistic approach to stress and anxiety management, focusing on restoring balance to the body and mind. Acupuncture, one of the most well-known forms of TCM, is a technique that involves inserting thin needles into the skin at specific points to stimulate the body’s natural healing mechanisms. Research suggests that it may help to reduce stress and anxiety by regulating the body’s stress response.
Here are some evidence-based findings on the effectiveness of TCM and acupuncture for stress and anxiety:
Acupuncture may help to reduce anxiety.
A systematic review and meta-analysis of 30 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) found that acupuncture was more effective than no treatment or sham acupuncture in reducing anxiety symptoms. The study also found that acupuncture was comparable to cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in reducing anxiety symptoms.
Link to study: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28137508/
Acupuncture may help to regulate the body’s stress response.
Research has shown that acupuncture can modulate the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, a key stress response pathway in the body. A study using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) found that acupuncture can modulate the activity of brain regions involved in the stress response, including the amygdala and hippocampus.
Link to study: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26374839/
Chinese herbal medicine may help to reduce anxiety and improve mood.
A systematic review and meta-analysis of 21 RCTs found that Chinese herbal medicine was more effective than placebo or no treatment in reducing anxiety symptoms. The study also found that Chinese herbal medicine was comparable to benzodiazepines in reducing anxiety symptoms.
Link to study: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24995421/
Acupressure may help to reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality.
A systematic review and meta-analysis of 25 RCTs found that acupressure was more effective than no treatment or sham acupressure in reducing anxiety and improving sleep quality. The study also found that acupressure was comparable to pharmacological treatments, such as diazepam and zolpidem, in improving sleep quality.
Link to study: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29793459/
If you are considering TCM or acupuncture for stress and anxiety management, it’s important to work with a qualified practitioner, such as those at Health in Flow Chinese Medicine, based in Melbourne CBD, who can create an individualised treatment plan for you. With your practitioner, you will develop some stress management techniques which you can use in your day-to-day life including improved sleep hygiene to ensure you’re best primed to get the best rest possible.