Anxiety Points

Acupuncture Points Commonly Used for Anxiety related Conditions

Posted by TH Tanaka, Nov 23, 2013

Various acupuncture points have been used to treat anxiety disorders and symptoms induced by emotional stress.

Anxiety Points Located on Upper Back

According to the Nanjing, an ancient acupuncture text, the region between the scapulas is considered to be associated with emotions.  Thus, the muscles in this area are commonly tightened, among individuals with chronic anxiety disorders as well as people who have been under chronic emotional stress.

From a neuro-anatomical perspective, the area is also closely related to stress and anxiety conditions.  Thoracic spinal nerves (T2-T4) innervate to the heart as well as the muscles and skin of the intra-scapula region.  Prolonged hyper excitation of the cardiac sympathetic nerve irritates the muscles and skin in this area via the physiological mechanism called visceral-somato reflex.

Acupuncture/Acupressure Points for Anxiety

Upper back Anxiety and Stress Acupressure Points shown on acupuncture model

In general, the left side of the upper thoracic spine tends to become tighter with chronic emotional stress (tightness on the right side upper thoracic spine is commonly associated with mechanical stress, such as over usage of the computer mouse).

Other Anxiety Acupuncture Points

  • Palmer side of forearms (acupuncture points along Pericardium Channel)
  • Medial (inner) side of lower legs (acupuncture points along Liver Channel)
  • Abdominal acupuncture points around navel
  • Acupuncture points near upper cervical region (parasympathetic stimulation)
  • Acupuncture points near sacrum region (parasympathetic stimulation, especially used for emotional issues related to female hormones such as PMS and PMDD)

Important Note:

  • Many other points have been used for anxiety related symptoms beside the above mentioned points.  Experienced acupuncturists select different acupuncture points based on each patient’s presented signs and symptoms.
  • Experimental studies have demonstrated that physiological responses to a single acupuncture point can vary greatly, depending on the stimulation methods used.   In other words, simply inserting an acupuncture needle into the above mentioned “anti-anxiety point” does not necessary create a relaxation response.  One of the common physiological responses associated with relaxation is decreased heart rate which results via sympathetic beta suppression, parasympathetic activation, or both. When the point is inadequately stimulated, the heart rate could be increased via sympathetic activation, parasympathetic suppression or both as shown by some previous studies in acupuncture.