Acupuncture Treatment for Pre-exam Anxiety and Memory in Bermuda

Feelings of anxiety can affect concentration and the ability to learn, retain and recall information. These feelings can also affect one’s ability to reason and effectively apply conceptual knowledge. It is no surprise, then, that anxiety can also impede a person’s performance on examinations. Anxiety may be an issue in its own right, or it may accompany other problems such as depression. For more information, please refer to our articles specifically addressing acupuncture treatment for generalized anxiety and depression.

Empirical Evidence of Efficacy

As defined by Baddeley and Hitch, 1974, working memory is focused attention plus short-term memory. In a 2012 study entitled “The Effect of Acupuncture on Working Memory and Anxiety,” Bussell, J. randomly assigned 90 undergraduate students to either a control or treatment group. He then administered the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, STAI. There was no significant difference between the two groups on this measure.

Treatment-group subjects received stimulation at points on the governing vessel, pericardium and kidney meridians. These points included PC 6, Nei Guan, GV 24, Shen Ting, and KD 3, Taixi. Treatment was also applied at extra points Sischencong and Shenmen. Control-group subjects were swabbed with alcohol at the same acupoints, but they received no acupuncture treatment.

After treatment, subjects in both groups repeated the STAI. Additionally, all subjects completed the Automated Operation Span Task, AOSPAN, which is a computerized test of memory. The treatment-group scores on the AOSPAN were 9.5 percent greater than those in the control group. Those receiving acupuncture treatments also made 36 percent fewer math errors and attained lower scores on anxiety measures.

In another study, entitled “Relieving Pre-exam Anxiety Syndrome with Wrist-Ankle Acupuncture: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” researcher Zhong, X.Y., 2011, found significant differences on anxiety measures after acupuncture treatment. There were 60 students in this study. The 30 subjects in the treatment group received three treatments, each of 30-minute duration, during the week prior to their examination.

Counseling and Other Holistic Approaches

In our article on anxiety, we mention that anxiety stems from an imbalance in the internal organs as opposed to a mental condition. This comment is somewhat true, as far as it goes, however, eastern medical theory does not distinguish between mind and body. Given this, traditional western “mental” therapies can be effective adjuncts to eastern treatments. Cognitive-behavior therapy, for example, can be beneficial in treating pre-examination anxiety. This psychotherapeutic approach identifies and examines the person’s thoughts that precipitate feelings of anxiety. Once identified, a counselor can help the individual dispute the validity of dysfunctional thoughts.

At COHA Health, we assume a multidimensional approach to treatment. Holistic interventions and practices, such as acupuncture, meditation, Tuina massage, Tai Chi and nutritional support, enhance a person’s well-being. The overall health of the person is our primary concern, and when anxiety is inhibiting a student’s academic performance, we view the anxiety as a symptom of imbalance. We strive to remedy the imbalance holistically by treating the cause of the anxiety.

To schedule an appointment for Pre-exam Anxiety and Memory, contact Dr. Cann at COHA Health at 1.441.295.7612

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