Acupuncture For Depression: Can It Treat Depression?

A lot of people nowadays are seeking alternatives to help support depression. Depression is normally treated with psychological interventions and antidepressant medications. Depression and anxiety are two of the most common mood disorders and results can be various in individuals.

In the event when people are not seeing ideal outcomes, they then seek out alternative or complementary therapies. One of the common ones next to dietary changes and more importantly exercise is acupuncture to support their day-to-day emotional challenges and mood instabilities.

Recent research suggests that acupuncture is used for a wide range of complaints and depression is one of them. Studies show that Traditional Chinese Medicine using acupuncture needles may activate natural painkillers in the brain. This process is believed to improve functioning by correcting energy blocks or imbalances in the organs. Studies show that Acupuncture when used as part of an integrative approach can help improve symptoms of anxiety and depression.

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In TCM it is believed that “qi” is the flow of energy (often other translations can also explain the concept of qi such as air, oxygen, steam, etc.) through your body and it flows through your body and when regulated and flowing can provide optimum health. When the flow of energy is disrupted or impeded but also deficient or even excess, it may result in illness such as emotional symptoms, nervousness, headaches, loss of drive, fatigue, pain, and other physical symptoms which lead to stress and anxiety.

 Acupuncture helps remove blockages and restore energy flow, balancing organs, mind, and body. Applying needles to specific acupuncture points called meridians/channels/vessels rebalances energy flow and improves health. Each point links to a part of the meridian or “qi” that’s focused on providing patients relief depending on the meridian involved. These meridians relate to different organs in the body and as such have some influence on their energy, function, and overall general physiological response. These acupoints are found all over the body from head to toe, front and back, upper and lower limbs.

How does acupuncture for depression work? 

One of the most commonly explained ways is that these hair-thin needles used in acupuncture practice work by stimulating a sensory nerve(s) and or plexus which kicks them into communication with the brain.  The body’s natural painkillers called Endorphins are consequently released in response when working with pain or stress and as it travels throughout the body it can promote healing. An increase in these chemical compounds (or neurotransmitters such as endorphins) could provide a natural boost to your body and brain. After placing the needles in these associated acupoints, the practitioner will then stimulate them either by hand or in the case of anxiety and depression with electrical currents to promote neurochemical activity in the body. This practice aims to provide relief from depression and anxiety. 

People who have migraines and headaches are at times likely to also have depression. A 24-week study shows that people who received acupuncture treatments had less frequent migraines, therefore, reducing anxiety and stress.

Key takeaways

If you are considering acupuncture to treat depression, It is very important to find a licensed acupuncture practitioner. You should also be ready to commit to regular treatments because it will require a commitment to building momentum as regularity and frequency are important factors in the whole being approach. 

 

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6722678/

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/can-acupuncture-treat-depression/

https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/acupuncture-for-depression

https://www.webmd.com/depression/what-to-know-about-acupuncture-for-depression

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