The Meridian Times
(Magnolia Goh is in private practice in Manhattan and on Long Island and is a member of the ASNY board of directors)
Subject: Our century has seen a burgeoning increase in anxiety in all populations, and many forms of therapy have been employed to alleviate it. Escalating interest in complementary/alternative modalities has fostered the growth of acupuncture in the United States. However, there remains a shortage of literature exploring the relationship between the alleviation of anxiety and the use of acupuncture, In this study, the S-Anxiety scale (STAI Form Y-1) of the State- Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) was administered to 89 patients, before and immediately following one acupuncture treatment. The S-Anxiety scale comprises twenty statements assessing the subject’s feelings at that moment. Specifically, apprehension, tension, nervousness and worry are evaluated. Higher scores indicate greater anxiety. The S-Anxiety scale is particularly sensitive to changes in transitory anxiety. Statistical analysis will determine if there is a significant difference in participants’ anxiety levels before and after acupuncture treatment.
Object: All eighty-nine participants are acupuncture patients of the Magnolia Health Center. Each person came to the center to receive acupuncture treatment for different illnesses. There was no restriction for randomizing. Every patient was informed of the study’s purpose, and completed the 20-question survey night before their acupuncture session. The acupuncture treatment was according to the individual’s condition; no points were chosen specifically for the purpose of the study. Right after the treatment, each person received the same questionnaire to complete.
Results: Upon first examination, evidence indicates a statistically significant difference between the mean (42.4886) of the A scores (pre-acupuncture treatment), and the mean (32.0795) of the B scores (post-acupuncture treatment) when alpha is set at .05, t=8.14, p< .000. Therefore, it can be concluded that differences ‘in the means were related to the acupuncture treatment, as opposed to occurring by chance. The Person Product-Moment Correlation Coefficient is calculated to be .497. This number is not indicative of a strong correlation between the A and B Scores.
Discussion: According to the National Mental Health Association, 9% of the adult American population is affected by mental illness; within any six -month period anxiety is a prominent factor. During the entire life span, 26 million Americans will experience an anxiety disorder, making this the most common of mental illnesses in the United States. These include: phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder (National Mental Health Association. 1993). Both the acupuncture and psychiatric communities have noticed the effectiveness of acupuncture treatment for patients with stress and anxiety. Traditional Chinese medicine does not separate emotional and physical function (Leviton, 1989). But there are relatively few reports about the effects of acupuncture on patients with different disorders. While specific acu-points can be needled for the treatment of anxiety, it was hypothesized that needling many different points could have a relationship to alleviating anxiety.
Again, patients in this study were not randomized or restricted from participating, and the acu-points for every patient were selected according to their physical and mental condition according the principles of traditional Chinese medicine. Also, none of the participants were new to the experience of acupuncture; therefore, anxiety about needles was not a factor. This demonstrates that the improvement in participants’ mental/emotional status was due to the acupuncture treatment.
The researchers conclude that acupuncture treatment positively affects people’s stress and anxiety. For further research, it would be of interest to study if specific acupuncture points are more effective dm others in alleviating anxiety. This would address the possibility that the decrease of anxiety in this study was based upon the subjects being given a focused task and/or their experiencing the feeling of receiving a health care professional’s attention. A holistic approach to studying physical and mental disease necessitates considering alternative treatments by Western medicine. With more rigorous research and education, it Is possible that acupuncture may complement verbal therapy, behavior modification, systematic desensitization, and psychopharmacology in the treatment of anxiety and anxiety-related disorders in the mainstream of Western medicine.