Can Acupuncture Treat Depression?
Depression may not be considered as a severe health condition compared to the likes of AIDS or cancer, but it is something that is not to be taken lightly. Depression is defined as a state of intense sadness, melancholia or despair that has reached a point wherein it has become disruptive to the social functioning and daily living of the individual. Some people think that depression is the same as sadness, but the former is much more than the latter. Depression is distinct from sadness in that it takes over a person’s everyday life. Some of the symptoms of depression include loss of interest in daily activities, weight loss or weight gain, sleeping problems, concentration problems, and unexplained aches and pains. Depression is also a major risk factor for suicide. Because of the serious nature of depression, treatment for the condition is necessary. One of those treatments is acupuncture.
Is there a link between acupuncture and depression
It was only in recent years that medical experts have established the link between acupuncture and depression. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)—which acupuncture is a part of—does not actually acknowledge depression as an illness. However, it does seek to treat particular symptoms through different techniques. Acupuncture is recognized not only as a preventive form of healthcare, but also as an effective treatment for pain and chronic ailments.
Acupuncture is really a set of procedures that involves the stimulation of anatomical points on the body using different techniques, but the most recognized technique is the one which includes needle insertion to the skin. TCM upholds the belief that the body is a delicate balance between the yin and yang, two contrasting but connected forces. The imbalance of these forces causes the obstruction of the flow of the qi—a vital force that regulates an individual’s spiritual, emotional, mental and physical balance—along meridians. The obstruction of the flow is what results in diseases and disorders. The flow can be made smooth once again by inserting needles on the certain points of the body that connect with the meridians.
So how does acupuncture and depression go together?
Depression is said to be a result of stagnated qi, and the ancient Chinese treatment can cure the condition by releasing the stagnated qi. When the qi is flowing freely throughout the body, the body is able to heal itself and function better in the process. Because acupuncture promotes the general well-being of an individual, depressed patients who receive the treatment experience improvement in terms of the symptoms. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) also confirm that acupuncture changes brain chemistry by altering the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones in a positive way.
Many studies have proven that acupuncture is indeed effective as a treatment against depression. One of them was conducted by both psychologist John Allen and acupuncturist Rosa Schnyer. The two designed a specific treatment plan which targeted ‘depression points’ on the body. Those who were involved in the depression-specific treatment experienced about a 43 percent reduction of their depression symptoms.
Most of the typical responses to acupuncture treatment for depression were good. Those who have tried acupuncture claimed that while the recovery was gradual, the improvement of their condition was evident. They still experienced bad days, but the bad days were not as bad as they were in the past. They became better and their depression more manageable.