Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that develops in people who have experienced traumatic events in times past. Patients with post-traumatic stress disorder often re-experience the traumatic event (e.g., flashbacks or nightmares), avoid anything (people, places, activities, conversation) that reminds them of the event, and also experience hyperarousal symptoms (i.e., are irritable, have difficulty concentrating, become angry with slight provocation, easily frightened, have elevated blood pressure and heart rate, migraine, poor sleep, etc.). They feel detached from others and are depressed.
In Canada, about 10 % of Veterans are affected by PTSD, whereas depression and anxiety are also most common mental health issues that affect Force Members.1
Acupuncture for the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Many studies have shown beneficial effects of acupuncture on symptoms that are seen in PTSD, possibly by alteration of neuronal activities in the limbic and subcortical structures of the brain.
- Acupuncture reduces PTSD symptoms score
In a review of a study that treated PTSD with acupuncture, the symptoms of PTSD significantly reduced and the improvement was sustained at three months follow up.2
- Acupuncture helps manage other mental conditions associated with PTSD
In addition,, symptoms of depression, insomnia and anxiety reduced compared with the waitlist group.2 In a similar study, five weeks of acupuncture treatment improved sleep and anxiety and increased melatonin level in the urine.3
- Acupuncture calms the brain and affects the limbic system
It is known that acupuncture has a calming effect on the nervous system. This is confirmed by a functional MRI and PET scan study. Stimulation of specific acupuncture points reduces activity in the limbic system, the part of the brain that responsible for emotions.2
1.Caryn Pearson, Mark Zamorski and Teresa Janz. Mental health of the Canadian Armed Forces. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 82-624-X
- Joe C. Chang. Acupuncture for the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Review of Evidence-Based Research. Natural Medicine Journal April 2010 Vol. 2 Issue 4