The conversation around mental health has become much more prominent in recent years thanks in part to the pandemic. Depression, loneliness, and anxiety have all increased for many people especially in the last couple of years. Sometimes a prescription medication is needed to deal with a particular mental health issue, but often people are looking for a drug free alternative to medication. Acupuncture is a great option for those struggling with mental or emotional issues.
Some users of antidepressant prescription medications can experience side effects and some people just aren’t helped by the medications. Acupuncture offers a holistic option to deal with depression and the underlying causes.
Depression and anxiety can manifest with both physical and emotional symptoms. This is often an indication of an imbalance of Qi (pronounced “Chi”) in the body. Qi is defined as the body’s energy or life force that flows through channels in the body called meridians. When Qi is balanced and smoothly flowing through the meridian network, our bodies operate optimally. When Qi isn’t balanced, depression, anxiety, loss of appetite, high blood pressure, and even digestive issues can be present.
Before beginning your acupuncture treatment, your acupuncturist will take a detailed history and perform a Chinese Medicine examination. Acupuncture points for treating emotional and physical effects of mental health disorders are located all over the body. Your acupuncturist will choose the acupuncture points based on your history and their report of findings.
Researchers have been studying the effectiveness of acupuncture and how it can help people who suffer from depression and the results are positive. A study conducted at the University of Arizona examined responses of 34 depressed women who used acupuncture. Some received acupuncture specifically designed for depression , some received generalized acupuncture, and some received no treatment at all. The study found that of the women who received acupuncture specifically for depression, 43% experienced a reduction in their symptoms compared with 22% for those receiving general acupuncture and 14% for those who received no treatment at all. After eight weeks, more than half of the women who received specific acupuncture had less depression.
The results of this study are encouraging. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, talk to your acupuncturist about an appropriate treatment plan based on your specific needs. 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. “Dose” is defined as both the number of treatment sessions overall, as well as the number of acupuncture points addressed in each session.
Your acupuncturist can also recommend nutrition and dietary changes to help bring your Qi back into balance. As we have all seen over the last couple of years, we need to be as vigilant in maintaining our mental health as we are with our physical health. Experience the healing benefits of acupuncture!