Acupuncture May Reduce Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms

Do you suffer from the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? The disorder affects more than 24 million Americans at any time, according to PTSD United, which notes that women have twice the PTSD rate of men. Although counseling and medications can be helpful, they aren't the best choice for everyone. Acupuncture treatment offers another PTSD treatment option.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

Centuries ago, Asian natural medicine practitioners determined that many physical ailments were related to blockages of Qi, a lifeforce that flows throughout the body. They discovered that inserting hair-thin needles into meridians corresponding to various organs and parts of the body eliminated the blockages and restored normal Qi flow. Numerous research studies have proven the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating a variety of conditions and diseases, such as nausea, diabetes, insomnia, tension and migraine headaches, and pain caused by osteoarthritis and knee, back and neck pain.

In addition to relieving physical symptoms, acupuncture offers an effective way to lower stress, encourage relaxation and treat mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.

What Benefits Does Acupuncture Offer?

Talking about the event that caused your PTSD is a key component in many therapy plans. While this approach can be helpful, discussing traumatic events week after week may actually worsen symptoms, in some cases. Medications, such as antidepressants, can offer an effective way to reduce symptoms. Unfortunately, these medications often cause unpleasant side effects, such nausea, drowsiness and blurred vision. Acupuncture offers a completely natural way to treat PTSD and doesn't require discussions about the event that caused your symptoms.

Acupuncture relieves or reduces common PTSD symptoms, including:

  • Flashbacks
  • Startling Easy
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Aggression
  • Angry Outbursts
  • Mental fogginess
  • Loss of Interest in Activities You Once Enjoyed
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares
  • Unwelcome Thoughts and Memories

Long-term stress due to PTSD can affect the hippocampus and amygdala, two brain structures involved in memory processing and consolidation. Acupuncture may improve functioning of these structures and decrease PTSD symptoms. Acupuncture treatments also stimulate the production of natural chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins reduce pain and stress and also improve sleep. If an accident or combat triggered PTSD, acupuncture treatments may be doubly effective, as they provide a drug-free way to decrease both pain and stress.

Insomnia is a particularly common complaint in people who have PTSD. Inability to sleep not only causes obvious symptoms, such as daytime drowsiness or difficulty concentrating, but may also worsen PTSD symptoms. If you can't fall asleep or stay asleep, you may become even more irritable or easily startled and may find that flashbacks and anxiety worsen. Acupuncture treatments increase the production of melatonin, a natural hormone that controls your sleep and wake cycles. Treatments also relieve stress, which can play a role in your ability to sleep.

How Effective is Acupuncture for PTSD?

A number of studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of acupuncture treatments for PTSD. In a study published in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 73 people diagnosed with PTSD received either acupuncture, group cognitive-behavioral therapy or no treatment. Cognitive behavioral-therapy and acupuncture were equally effective, and the effects lasted three months after the end of treatment.

A Chinese study compared the effectiveness of an oral antidepressant with electroacupuncture, a type of treatment that use low-voltage electrical current to enhance the effects of acupuncture treatments. Although both treatments reduced depression symptoms, electroacupuncture worked more quickly and had a better improvement rate than the antidepressant.

Acupuncture offers a safe, effective way to treat PTSD symptoms with absolutely no side effects. If you haven't been happy with the treatment methods you've tried in the past, you may want to consider acupuncture treatments. Call us to schedule your first appointment.


PTSD United: PTSD Statistics

Journal of Nervous and Mental Disorders: Acupuncture for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, 6/07

Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine: Effects of Electroacupuncture on Depression and the Production of Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Compared with Fluoxetine: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study, 5/6/13

Pacific College of Oriental Medicine: Acupuncture for PTSD

Acupuncture Massage College: Looking for a Natural Treatment for PTSD? Try Acupuncture, 3/2/17

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: Acupuncture May Help Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder


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