Generalized Anxiety Disorder: New Research

NCS-A_data-GAD-720The National Institutes of Mental Health characterizes generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) as persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worry about everyday things (money, health, family, work, etc.) even when there is no apparent need to worry.  Excessive worry about everyday problems for a minimum of 6 months is the criteria for a diagnosis of GAD.  Generalized anxiety disorders affect about 3.1% of adults in the US (6.8 million). Symptoms often start in teen years but average age of onset is 31.

Symptoms of GAD include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Startle easily
  • Trouble sleeping (falling or staying asleep)
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Sweating or hot flashes
  • Irritability


Treatment for GAD involves psychotherapy and medication, however, a recent study concludes that acupuncture can help GAD. HealthCMi (2/23/14) note “In this new study, researchers note that “a number of Meta analysis and system evaluations point out that acupuncture treatment has more advantages than drugs in the treatment of anxiety disorders….” The researchers also note that acupuncture has a fast effective action and high compliance. In addition, acupuncture has a relatively minimal risk of side effects compared with drug therapy.

The researchers note that acupuncture is both safe and effective. A trend towards increased usage of acupuncture for GAD is partially due to the risk of side effects from drug therapy. Benzodiazepines are major anti-anxiety medications but there is a risk vertigo, sleepiness and addiction. SSRIs (serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors are also important drugs for anti-anxiety treatments. However, side effects including nausea, irritability, sexual dysfunction, headaches, high blood pressure, dizziness, sweating and digestive disturbances complicate use of these medications.”

“The researchers based their conclusion on meta-analyses and biomedically based studies. They also give a detailed Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theoretical and practical analysis of acupuncture for the treatment of anxiety disorders. The conventional scientific evidence demonstrates that acupuncture benefits brain biochemistry and produces significant positive patient outcomes. The TCM analysis details proven methods to achieve clinical results, however, the terminology is less accessible to mainstream doctors than the biomedical evidence.

The researchers reviewed scientific evidence including the following studies:
The mechanism of post receptor signal transduction pathway cAMP-CREB -BDNF in acupuncture against depression.
Study on the role of post receptor signal transduction pathway cAMP-CREB-BDNF by acupuncture intervention in the rat model of depression.
Clinical study on acupuncture treatment of Depression Insomnia.
Research of mechanism of acupuncture regulating signal transduction cAMP-CREB-BDNF in hippocampus of depression rats.
Research of mechanism of antidepressant acupuncture based on glutamic acid circulation guided by glial cell medium.

The research demonstrates a clear pattern of acupuncture’s ability to benefit the brain, bodily biochemistry and to produce positive patient outcomes in the treatment of both depression and anxiety. This aspect of the research is highly accessible to a wide audience within the medical community. What follows next is comprehensible within the TCM system but is external to conventional semantics and theoretical constructs.”

The researchers discuss in detail the conceptual framework in which TCM hypothesizes the relationship between GAD and TCM theory. Through a comprehensive differential diagnosis, your acupuncturist is trained to discern the TCM pattern and treat it body-mind-spirit cohesively.

At Wildwood Acupuncture Center–we are a family owned medically based clinic who will work in collaboration with other treatments you are receiving to enhance your treatment results.

Call us today to schedule a consultation: 301-530-5308

Observation on the mechanism of acupuncture treatment for generalized anxiety disorder using Lieque (LU7), Zhaohai (KI6) as the main acupoints. Lin, Chuhua; Zhao, Xiaoyan; Liu, Xing; Fu, Wenbin. Bioinformatics and Biomedicine (BIBM), 2013 IEEE International Conference on. 18-21, 12-2-13.