As mental health issues have come to the forefront in recent years, many have sought more natural treatment options that don’t involve pharmaceuticals and their potentially harmful effects. Acupuncture has become a popular option for treating mental health issues, including depression. But does it work? Before we answer that question, let’s give a proper definition to both acupuncture and depression.
Acupuncture can simply be defined as thin needles (the width of a human hair) inserted into specific parts of the body called “points” or “meridians.” Where the needles get inserted depends on the issue being treated. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (also known as TCM) it is taught that the body has a flow of energy or qi that regulates a person’s health. If this flow of energy is disrupted, illness can occur. Applying the acupuncture needles to these specific points can put the body back in balance and get the energy flowing as it should.
WebMD defines depression as “an illness that involves constant feelings of sadness and a loss of interest or pleasure.” They also define additional symptoms as difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much, lack of energy, suicidal thoughts, drastic changes to weight and appetite, irritability, difficulty concentrating, remembering things or even making decisions, and feelings of guilt or worthlessness. Depression is most often treated with medication or therapy or a combination of both. The disheartening thing is that, according to WebMD, “between 19 and 34% of people with depression don’t improve with these more traditional treatments.” This has led to more people looking for alternative treatments including acupuncture.
What the Research Says
There are many encouraging studies demonstrating great results for those suffering from feelings of anxiety and depression. A 2010 study stated that, “Depression and anxiety together constitute a significant contribution to the global burden of disease. Acupuncture is widely used for the treatment of anxiety and depression and its use is increasing. The theoretical basis for acupuncture diagnosis and treatment derives from traditional Chinese medicine theory.”
Studies have shown that the right “dose” of acupuncture was the key in helping patients see results and a reduction of the symptoms of stress and depression. A “dose” is defined as both the number of treatment sessions overall, as well as the number of acupuncture points addressed in each session. Studies have also shown that acupuncture can help to get heart rate variability back to an optimal range which can help improve issues with heart disease, hypertension, anxiety and depression, insomnia, migraines, and muscle pain.
There is a cascade of health benefits that can come from regular acupuncture treatments and I can also recommend nutritional and dietary changes that can help get your energy back in balance.
If you suffer from feelings of anxiety and depression, talk to me about developing an appropriate treatment plan. I will take a detailed health history and examination to determine the best course of action for YOU!