Acupuncture - Depression


According to the New England Journal of Medicine, depression is extremely common in the United States and is among the ten most frequently reported medical conditions. Approximately fifty percent of the people who seek treatment for depression are not helped by medication or withdraw from treatment too early. Of those who recover, more than one third relapse within eighteen months. This suggests that additional treatment options may be very helpful for people who suffer from depression. 

Worldwide Research

Since the early nineties, studies around the globe have suggested that treating depression with acupuncture has a positive and holistic effect on depressed individuals, particularly when used in combination with psychotherapy and herbal treatments.The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved acupuncture as a treatment for depression.The National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded a pilot study by researchers at the University of Arizona to study the effectiveness of acupuncture as a therapy for depression. The study confirmed that acupuncture is a promising treatment for major depression in women.

Researchers at the Department of Anesthesiology, Wayne County General Hospital, Westland, Michigan, have found that acupuncture produces an increase in brain chemicals that are believed to be in short supply in people who are depressed. Their research found that cerebral serotonin has anti-depressant and analgesic effects and that cerebral serotonin can be released by the stimulation of certain acupuncture points.In one study in Italy, conducted by the Societa Italiana di Riflessoterapia, Agopuntura, Auricoloterapia, Prato, Italy, auricular acupuncture (acupuncture treatment to the ear) was found to be effective in reducing anxiety and depression levels. 

Drugs Often Mask the Root Cause

Each year, according to the NIH, a million people use acupuncture. For those who are seeking help with depression, conventional treatments that utilize antidepressant and anti-anxiety drugs often address only the signs and symptoms of the disease and not the root cause. According to the Physician Desk Reference, the top antidepressant drugs can cause a myriad of side effects such as insomnia, anxiety, listlessness, fatigue, tremors, and sexual dysfunction. 

Acupuncture and Conventional Medicine

Why does acupuncture succeed in areas that conventional medicine seems to come up short? Both systems of medicine have their own areas of effectiveness. Conventional medicine generally looks to the outside for healing, primarily in the form of pills, and often focuses on the elimination of the symptoms of ill health rather than the underlying problem.

Acupuncture is a health care system that focuses on prevention, with an overall wellness orientation. Acupuncturists look for patterns of ill health to determine the underlying cause. Looking to the inside and assuming that the mind, body and spirit are inter-connected, acupuncture concentrates on the body’s ability to heal itself. Imbalances in the body’s energy cause illness and acupuncture heals by restoring the body’s balance.In support of this principle, the NIH has concluded that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system to release pain-relieving endorphins and appears to improve the immune function. Stress related disorders, pain control, and chronic disease are three of acupuncture medicine’s specialties. 

Acupuncture Complements Other Approaches

A system of total body health care, acupuncture can be used as a complement to other approaches. For example, acupuncture might be combined with physical therapy, diet and herbal medicine. Acupuncture is also offered as part of an array of therapies at many well known hospitals throughout the country, including the famous Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, according to an article in the Medical News Archives of WebMD. 

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