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According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder.

Certain challenging or traumatic events may produce feelings of anxiety, worry or fear, this is normal being human. However anxiety becomes a problem when emotional reactions are out of proportion to what might be considered a "normal" reaction to a situation. If symptoms of anxiety persist and begin to interfere with a person's daily functioning or sleep patterns, it may be possible they have an anxiety disorder. Mild anxiety leaves a person feeling unsettled, while severe anxiety can be extremely debilitating. Regardless of severity, an anxiety disorder should not be left untreated.

Anxiety is a general term used for several disorders that share common symptoms, these symptoms include nervousness, worrying, apprehension and fear. Anxiety disorders can be classified into several specific types. The most common types of anxiety are described below.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Characterized by exaggerated, persistent and excessive worry about everyday things. People with this disorder often expect the worst and experience exaggerated worry and tension, even when there may be no apparent reason for concern.

Panic Disorder

Characterized by the brief or sudden attacks of intense terror and apprehension a that leads to shaking, confusion, nausea, dizziness and difficulty breathing. Panic attacks tend to arise abruptly, causing the individual to become preoccupied with the fear of a recurring attack.

Phobia Disorders

Characterized as an irrational fear, or avoidance of an object or situation. Common phobias could involve a fear of flying, bridges, insects, heights, medical procedures and elevators. Those who suffer from a phobia may experience disrupted daily routines, reduced self-esteem, limited work efficiency and it could place strain on their relationships with others.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Characterized by the fear of being negatively judged and scrutinized by others in social or performance-related situations, different variations of this type of anxiety could include a fear of relationships and intimacy, stage fright and a fear of humiliation. Many people suffering from this disorder will sometimes isolate themselves in an attempt to avoid public situations and human contact as a way of coping with their disorder.

Obsessive -Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

An anxiety disorder characterized by unwanted or intrusive thoughts, these thoughts often make the sufferer feel compelled to repeat certain behaviors or routines. Even if the OCD sufferer recognizes the irrationality of their compulsions, they may feel powerless to stop them. This powerlessness may manifest itself in compulsivity by way of over washing one's hands, or cleaning personal items or constantly checking light switches, locks and doors or stoves and ovens. There are many other ways obsessive-compulsive disorder could manifest itself depending on the experience of the individual patient.

How Acupuncture Can Help

In many Western schools of thought, anxiety disorders are considered to be dysfunctions of brain chemistry. An acupuncturist does not view anxiety as a brain dysfunction, but rather as an imbalance in a person's organ system. In Chinese Medicine, this imbalance is called Shan You Si ("anxiety & preoccupation"), and is believed to affect the main organs: heart, lung, spleen, liver, and kidneys.

The role of an acupuncturist is to investigate the underlying causes of the anxiety, this is done by carrying out a thorough diagnostic evaluation in order to determine which organ systems are out of balance. The acupuncturist will seek to restore the imbalance by carefully inserting fine, sterile needles into the acupuncture meridian points correlating to those organs. Additionally, acupuncture helps to reduce stress, encourages and supports a greater sense of well being and balance.

Acupuncture meridian points activate the body's innate healing abilities acupuncturists call Qi (chee). According to Chinese Medicine, Qi is the vital energy that animates the body and protects it from illness. Qi flows through pathways called meridians and provides nourishment to the body's cells, tissues, organs and glands.

When there is an imbalance or blockage in the flow of Qi, symptoms associated with the condition or illness may appear. Acupuncture is just one aspect of Chinese Medicine, thee are many modalities within Chinese Medicine that may effectively contribute to restoring the body's natural healing ability.

From a modern scientific perspective, stimulation of acupuncture meridian points causes the release of a multitude of nervous system chemicals in our brain, spinal cord, and muscles that help restore the body's ability to heal naturally.

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