Franklin Countys First News

Dealing with anxiety

Mary Lello

Lately I've been getting a lot of calls from new patients who want to book appointments with me due to their high anxiety levels. There are good reasons to be anxious these days: terrible driving conditions, the transfer of power to a new President, and the uncertainty that goes along with this.

But ... anxiety is an emotion, so how can acupuncture help with anxiety?

First, what is anxiety? It is our biological response to a real or perceived immediate threat. Much like stress it is a normal biological reaction that is linked to the autonomic nervous system, which controls our "fight or flight" responses. Obviously this response can be constructive as it may help improve performance at work, in sport competitions, taking tests, or public speaking. But this anxious reaction begins to cause problems when it's too strong, too easily turned on, or not turned off once the "danger" has passed.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by persistent and excessive anxiety, worry, and fear about many different areas that are hard for the individual to control. The anxious response can be triggered by drugs, medications, or other substances including stimulants, caffeine or corticosteroids. And yet many of the above substances may actually be prescribed to help treat someone with GAD. Go figure.

Similar to stress, anxiety produces the release of the hormones cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones increase the heart rate, tighten the muscles, dilate the pupils, and prepare us to turn and run. But prolonged periods of anxiety demonstrate symptoms that include restlessness or edginess, a tendency to become easily fatigued, an inability to concentrate or going “blank,” irritability, headaches, sleep problems and digestive problems.

Over an extended period of time these hormones that are raging through our system to help us stand and fight begin to wreak havoc on our entire body physically, mentally and emotionally.

Acupuncture has been proven very successful for treating anxiety. How? Western medicine tends to treat the symptom, medicate it, and treat all GAD individuals in the exact same manner. Acupuncture treats all sufferers as the special individuals that they are. The acupuncturist listens carefully to all that the patient shares, does a physical diagnosis that determines the flow of Qi in the meridian system of the person, and finds specific keys that unlock the patterns of discomfort the patient is suffering from.

By identifying the imbalances that cause the symptoms of anxiety and not just treating the symptoms themselves, the acupuncturist is better able to see the whole person as their individual story unfolds. This leads to selecting the optimum way to achieve greater results in helping the person flush the stress hormones through their system and find their own inner calm. Two people coming for acupuncture for a main complaint of anxiety might get two very different treatments depending on a whole host of factors—the treatments are tailored to the individual.

People frequently ask "how many treatments will I need?" Like the treatment itself, the prognosis for every person is different. Most of my current clients coming for anxiety are finding a marked improvement with the first treatment: a feeling of release, a sense of renewed freedom, and an improved ability to handle their triggers. But experience dictates that a series of six treatments, done weekly, ensures that the healing is deep and longer lasting. Most clients will continue to come for "tune-ups" as they have learned and experienced the incredible deep healing and balancing that acupuncture offers them.

Mary Lello holds a Master's degree in acupuncture (MAc), is a Licensed Acupuncturist (LAc) and a Diplomate of the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Her practice is at 101 Main St in Farmignton. She can be reached at or by calling 866-266-5549. Lello is currently accepting some insurance with Anthem, Aetna, Harvard Pilgrim and Cigna.

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2 Responses »

  1. " Western medicine tends to treat the symptom, medicate it, and treat all GAD individuals in the exact same manner. "
    Jeez ,I wish papers would not publish this kind of exaggerated, blaming stereotyping.
    Every doctor worth their salt knows that people are complex, and that anxiety can be from medical conditions or from medicine( there is no need for the sarcastic " go figure!") or from one;s life conditions- or a combination of many things.Most of us wish we had a lot more time with folks . Taking care of people is extremely complex and we are trying to do it when we have a health care system that is broken and absurd beyond belief Anxiety is common; it has many causes and many approaches to treatment.
    Patients have enough on their plates !

  2. Jean - your point is well taken and I appreciate it. I realize there are many dedicated western healthcare professionals who are doing an amazing job, listening and doing all that they can in strict time constraints that the broken healthcare system allows them. Unfortunately this isn't what is true across the board. I've seen many clients who have not felt listened to by their primary care doctors and have left an office with only another prescription to treat their anxiety rather than a long term solution to their problem. I did not mean to imply that all western medical practitioners do this, but that the current system of medical care often seems stacked against those who are caring and compassionate because of time and other constraints placed on them.

    What those of us in this healing profession must do is work together to find the best solutions for those who are struggling with emotional and physical pain and discomfort.