A typical symptom of the transition into menopause (known as Climacteric syndrome) for women in the age range of 35 and 65 is anxiety. A number of studies have found that menopausal symptoms such as irritability, excessive emotional reactions and excessive mood swings (known as emotional lability), persistent worrying and negative rumination are often symptoms of heightened anxiety brought about by Climacteric syndrome.
Previous studies about the usefulness of acupuncture with anxiety have been mixed. About a third of previous studies have found acupuncture can help with anxiety, with the rest finding that acupuncture has no effect on anxiety and depression.
A study has just been published in the Journal of Nursing by researchers and practitioners from the Federal University of Ceará in Brazil has shown some very promising results for women suffering from these Climacteric symptoms.
The study looked at 30 women between the ages of 41 and 65 with Climacteric based anxiety and emotional lability symptoms. Half of the sample were treated with acupuncture and half (15) were given a placebo acupuncture treatment, where the women thought they were receiving acupuncture, but actually were being punctured 1.2 cm away from the the internationally recognised acupunture points. The results were then compared to the recovery rates from over 320 women who did not undergo any treatment. 75% of the women in the treatment groups had histories of previous emotional problems like anxiety. They also looked at other factors which may be exacerbating anxiety levels in the women, which I will cover below.
The researchers found that acupuncture, both genuine and placebo, was clinically effective for the treatment of the women's anxiety. 93.3% of the women who had the genuine acupuncture and 86.6% of the women who had the placebo effect had a marked improvement in anxiety levels over 10 sessions.
They also found that two particular factors had a significant negative impact, promoting greater levels of anxiety and emotional lability, on women with Climacteric syndrome. These are poor marital/partner relationships and stressful professional lives.
Other studies have shown that anxiety and sleep disruption problems during menopause increases the risk of depression by 4 to 5 times.
Girão ÁC, Alves MDS, Alves e Souza ÂM et al. (2014) Acupuncture in the treatment of anxiety in climacteric: additional therapy in mental health promotion. J Nurs UFPE on line., Recife, 8(6):1538-44, June., 2014
Luca AC de, Fonseca AM da, Lopes CM, Bagnolli VR, Soares JM, Baracat EC. (2011) Acupuncture-ameliorated menopausal symptons: single-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial. Climateric [Internet]. 2011 Feb [cited 2013 Jan 12];14(1):140-5
Polisseni AF, Polisseni F, Fernandes LM, Moraes MA, Guerra MO. (2009) Depressão em mulheres climatéricas. HU ver [Internet]. 2009 July/Sept [cited 2012 Dec 15] ; 35(3): 183-9.