Acupuncture for Stress, Anxiety and Depression

When a person is not engaged in any particular activity, something happens in the brain. The mind begins to wander. We start to mull over past conversations or future events. This is type of brain activity can be seen using fMRI scans. Just like a computer that defaults to a screensaver mode when no tasks are being performed, the mind-wandering activity that switches on is called the Default Mode Network (DMN).

The character of this network forms when we are children. When a child is playing with their toys, they talk out loud to them and act out invented play scenes. Cognitive scientists have deduced that when children are talking to themselves, they are rehearsing “successful” social interactions. The solo-play chatter is a process of remembering and repeating the kinds of interactions that resulted in positive or negative feedback from carers or friends. In this way, social interaction for the child leads to social conditioning so that the growing young person learns to fit in and survive within their community. The early conditioning turns into our internal monologue and stays with us as training for the rest of our adult life.

The DMN, associated with our inner voice, has been found to be more active in people suffering from depression. When we encounter high stress in our lives, our nervous system becomes flooded with stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, causing this brain network to be highly active all the time. Situations of instability that trigger fearful emotions will cause the mind to look for ways we can escape the undesirable circumstances. The brain begins to work hard to control our behaviour in an effort to help us succeed in the community and find safety. The danger is that we can get stuck in a rut of negative thinking, beating ourselves up for every little thing. If prolonged, the process cuts us off from our innate motivations. Inspiration and self-expression become stifled and a continual state of anxiety and low mood sets in.

One of the key mechanisms of acupuncture that makes it so unique is the effect of deactivating the DMN, which we can see happening by fMRI brain scan. It literally turns down the volume of internal self-talk. Long-term meditators in an fMRI scanner also show deactivation of the chatter network. Their mental noise is quieter than the average person. A single treatment of acupuncture can bring the kind of peace that normally requires long-term sustained effort in meditation to achieve. After just a few sessions, people with stress, anxiety and depression usually report feeling back to their normal self again, insecurities lose their grip and new ways of thinking are allowed to arise naturally.

In her practice, Clare maximizes the effect of the treatment using guided relaxations and she offers advice on supplements for energy and stress management to get her clients feeling back on track and in the driving seat of their lives.

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