Are you tired of putting up with side effects from depression and anxiety medications? Are you looking for alternative ways to heal? Are you searching to bring balance and energy back into your body?
Then you owe it to yourself to explore acupuncture.
Anxiety and depression are the two most common mood disorders, and about one third of patients do not respond to traditional interventions, such as medication and psychotherapy. As a result, many people are seeking alternative ways of treating their mood disorders, including practices from Eastern medicine.
In the Eastern worldview, symptoms like depression and anxiety are warning bells—indicators that something bigger is going on in the body. The source of life energy (known as qi in Traditional Chinese Medicine) is off balance, leading to disease, which can manifest in depression and anxiety. Acupuncture is not a cure-all, but when it’s used as part of an integrative approach to making the entire body well, it can help alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
But what is acupuncture anyway? Let’s get straight to the point.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an ancient Eastern healing practice that has been around for about 3,000 years. A certified practitioner inserts thread-like needles into specific nerve points throughout the body (don’t worry—these needles are so tiny they don’t hurt one bit!). In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), these nerves are called “meridians,” and are regarded as important points along the body’s communication pathways. There are specific meridians that can be targeted to treat depression and anxiety.1 These pathways allow qi, or energy, to travel throughout the body and bring balance to the nervous system and the immune system.
Here’s a Western translation: Each needle sticks and stimulates a sensory nerve, which kicks them into communication with the brain. The brain then triggers a response from the immune system and the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, to travel throughout the body and bring healing.
Most acupuncture sessions last about 30 minutes. After the needles are placed around the body, the practitioner will move them by hand or stimulate them with electrical currents to promote neurochemical activity in the body.
7 Reasons to Try Acupuncture for Depression and Anxiety
There are many benefits to this ancient practice, including potential relief from depression and anxiety. Here are seven reasons to try acupuncture if you are looking for relief from anxiety and depression.
1. It works! Through a metanalysis of a variety of research studies on acupuncture and depression, acupuncture can significantly reduce the severity of depression, as measured by the Hamilton rating scale for depression or the Beck Depression Inventory.2
2. It’s an alternative to toxic medications. There are virtually no negative side effects to acupuncture. When used as a part of a holistic approach to treating depression, it can help you heal depression naturally.
3. It releases endorphins. Have you ever heard of a runner’s high? The awesome feeling you have after exercising is also caused by endorphins. Endorphins are a hormone that act as a natural pain killer in the body. When needles are inserted into sensory nerves just below the skin’s surface, the body stimulates a response in the immune system, which increases circulation to that area of the body and triggers the release of endorphins.
4. It’s a good option for pregnant women. If you’re expecting a child, you might want to reduce or eliminate your intake of medications to prevent adverse side effects in the child. Studies show that acupuncture is an effective option for pregnant women who do not want to take medication.3
5. It can reduce inflammation. Because the needles act as tiny wounds throughout the body, acupuncture prompts an anti-inflammatory response from the immune system as it combats the small invasions. There is increasing evidence that chronic inflammation keeps you depressed.
6. It is relaxing. Yep—getting dozens of tiny needles stuck in your body is actually a pleasant experience! Most patients find their acupuncture visits to be extremely therapeutic, and some even fall asleep during the session.
7. It gives you much more than a mood boost. Because acupuncture aims to make the body well, not treat specific symptoms, you’ll benefit from an overall increase in health. In fact, acupuncture is an effective treatment for migraine and tension headaches, and has been shown to help treat allergies and infertility.
If you decide to give acupuncture a try, make sure to find an experienced, certified acupuncturist who knows specifically how to treat anxiety and depression.
Keep in mind that acupuncture is most effective for depression and anxiety over the course of several weeks of treatment. Make sure to ask your provider about how many sessions they recommend for optimal healing.
Alleviant Health Centers is proud to offer acupuncture services at our San Diego, CA location. If you’re interested in learning more, request an appointment today!