Patient A comes for acupuncture to help deal with anxiety and panic attacks. He also reports a strong feeling of insecurity and tension.

Upon further questioning he reveals he wakes once to twice in the night, with anxiety and palpitations coming and going randomly, but particularly lying in bed. He describes himself as a “hot type of person”, often feeling a need to run (symptoms not dissimilar to Restless Leg Syndrome). He drinks alcohol every day as a way to relax, plenty of coffee at work and he smokes. His digestion becomes a problem when he is particularly anxious.

Along with a course of acupuncture and tui na (Chinese medical massage) treatments, we speak of the relevance of coffee and alcohol to his symptoms and he agrees to cut them out to monitor changes, replacing them with tea, herbal teas and some gentle exercise before work 3 mornings per week.

At the second treatment a week later, although he reports it having been a “long week” at work with a couple of parties, his anxiety is less extreme, his sleep “was better until last night”. Over the coming weeks, he reports feeling “more centred and stable”, “level-headed”, having improved his relationships at work and at home, and feeling “more empowered”. His sleep is generally uninterrupted, although occasionally he has vivid dreams, waking up feeling hot. By his seventh treatment, it is clear to him what stimulates his anxiety (stress at work, smoking, careless diet), although he rates it as 2/10 compared to his first treatment. By his ninth treatment, he has stopped smoking, eating better and enjoying his exercise routine.

The diet and lifestyle changes Patient A made afforded him to take the treatment home with him and create long term changes with the help of acupuncture, rather than acupuncture treatment working in spite of regular bad influences of diet and lifestyle.

The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) and Anxiety UK (the country’s leading anxiety disorders charity) are conducting a joint research project on the effectiveness of acupuncture for anxiety. You can read more here.