July 2, 2024

Acupuncture PTSD Treatment

Acupuncture PTSD treatment has proved effective for many with the mental health disorder. PTSD, or Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Acupuncture has proven to be a safe and effective treatment for anxiety, depression, stress, and chronic pain–all symptoms that often accompany PTSD.  (1, 2)

PTSD can occur after a person experiences a traumatic event, such as:

  • Military combat
  • Physical assault
  • Natural disasters
  • Serious accidents
  • Childhood abuse or neglect

Symptoms can vary from person to person, but common symptoms of the condition include:

  1. Recurrent, involuntary, intrusive and distressing memories of the traumatic event(s)
  2. Recurring and distressful dreams
  3. Sleep disturbances
  4. Flashbacks in which the individual feels or acts as if the traumatic event(s) are occurring in the present
  5. Psychological distress when exposed to stimuli that symbolizes or resembles an aspect of the trauma
  6. Physiological reactions to stimuli that symbolizes or resembles an aspect of the trauma
  7. Avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma
  8. Inability to remember an important aspect of the trauma
  9. Persistent and exaggerated negative thoughts or beliefs about oneself, others, or the world
  10. A persistent negative emotional state (e.g., anxiety, fear, horror, anger, guilt, or shame).
  11. A diminished interest in significant activities
  12. Feelings of detachment or estrangement from others
  13. Persistent inability to experience positive emotions (e.g., inability to experience happiness, satisfaction, or loving feelings)
  14. Emotional numbness
  15. Irritable behavior and angry outbursts with little or no provocation
  16. Reckless or self-destructive behavior
  17. Hypervigilance
  18. Exaggerated startle response
  19. Problems with concentration
  20. Physical symptoms like rapid heartbeat, sweating, or trembling; headaches, digestive problems, muscle tension (3)

Acupuncture’s effects upon the symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder have been documented with neuroimaging and neurophysiological studies. Acupuncture has effects upon the limbic system, prefrontal cortex, and autonomic nervous system which are neural systems involved with anxiety symptoms such as those in Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. (4, 5)

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1.Engel, C.; Cordova, E.; Benedek, D.; Liu, X.: Gore, K.; Goertz, C.; Freed, M. et al. Randomized Effectiveness Trial of a Brief Course of Acupuncture for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Medical Care 52:p S57-S64, December 2014.

  1. Pilkington K, Kirkwood G, Rampes H, et al.. Acupuncture for anxiety and anxiety disorders—a systematic literature review. Acupunct Med. 2007;25:1–10.
  2. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).
  3. Cabyoglu MT, Ergene N, Tan U. The mechanism of acupuncture and clinical applications. Int J Neurosci. 2006;116:115–125.
  4. Cannistraro PA, Rauch SL. Neural circuitry of anxiety: evidence from structural and functional neuroimaging studies. Psychopharmacol Bull. 2003;37:8–25.

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