Mental Health in Lockdown: Can Acupuncture Help?

How are Australians managing:

Lifeline Australia is a non-profit organisation that provides 24 hour telephone crisis support service in Australia. Reportedly, the phones have never been busier than August 2021 (this month) in its 57 years of history. Calls to Lifeline have skyrocketed with calls approximately 40% higher than before the lockdowns in 2020. One upside is that ‘Australians know help is there when they need it’, but it also illuminates the extent of the mental health burden everyday Australians are experiencing at the moment.

Who is affected most:

According to the Lancet Psychiatry, women, young people and people living with children were the most effected by extended lockdowns in the UK. This study found that clinically significant levels of mental distress leaped from 18.9% to 27.3% between 2018-19 and 2020. The greatest increase was in age groups 18-34, women and people living with children. In Australia, ‘unprecedented number’ of children are reportedly presenting with mental health issues since the June lockdown.

How does it affect me?

According to the Black Dog Institute, mental distress from lockdowns can affect our feelings in terms of anxiety or stress, increase tension in our body, impact our sleep, influence our thoughts and our behaviours. Stiff shoulders, inability to sleep, difficulty concentrating, being more dependant on food or alcohol, or becoming more edgy and snapping at our loved ones can all be signs of mental distress.

Where can I get help:

If you feel that you are struggling with mental health concerns, the best thing to do would be to let your GP know and work out a plan going forward. Lifeline Australia and Beyond Blue are also very well equipped to help Australians who are dealing with mental health concerns.

What else can I do:

Eat well and keep active. Talk to someone and get help. Get Acupuncture!

Does acupuncture help?

One interesting project in the UK analysed a group of acupuncturists who volunteered acupuncture services to NHS staff who were working in the front lines of the pandemic. This project was well received by NHS workers, and the team of 8 acupuncturists were fully booked for the duration of the project. They reported 86% of all the patients involved in the project reported improvements in their symptoms, and due to the positive results of the project, a NHS trust has allocated a budget for staff to continue treatment beyond the scope of the volunteer project.

Acupuncture is a practice of harmonizing the body, qi and mind to relieve mental distress. Although there has not been much rigorous studies specific to COVID, available research on acupuncture has demonstrated beneficial effects for managing mental distress. Moreover, there is accumulating report of case studies in the UK that have had positive results from acupuncture intervention of COVID related mental distress.

Acupuncture has been shown to increase the levels of ‘happy hormones’ serotonin and endorphins, stimulate parts of the braininfluencing mood and also influence the glutamatic neurotransmission network. See our previous blog.

A quick self-scan

In the last 2 weeks, how often do you:

  1. Feel nervous, anxious or on edge?
  2. Not being able to stop worrying?
  3. Worry too much about different things?
  4. Trouble relaxing?
  5. Restless?
  6. Be easily annoyed or irritable?
  7. Feeling like something awful might happen?

Adapted from: Anxiety test, Mental Health America

Talk to us!

Acupuncture is a safe and rewarding approach to taking control of your own health. If you have any questions or would like to find out more, we would love to talk to you. Daniel is an acupuncturist at Health Space Kingsford who has a keen interest in using acupuncture to help better manage the mental health in our community.

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