Depression can be debilitating for those who experience it. Prolonged feeling of sadness, discouragement and hopelessness greatly affects the quality of life.
At one time or another, most of us have experienced some form of depression. It’s a healthy response to events in our lives that seem overwhelming. When we are balanced, physically and emotionally, we can easily become back from a depressed state and move on with our lives. But when negative feelings and emotions become persistent and consistent, depression may set in.
Today, more than 28 million Americans are taking antidepressant and anti-anxiety drugs. In 1998, doctors wrote more than 130 million prescriptions for antidepressants. According to the Physicians’ Desk Reference, the top antidepressant drugs only address signs and symptoms associated with depression, and can cause a variety of side effects, including insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, fatigue, body rash, tremor, facial tics, diarrhoea, loss of appetite and sexual dysfunction. Depression alone is stressful enough on the body – and while medications may provide temporary relief, they can further compromise our health.
Acupuncture Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and depression
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) incorporate thousands of years of experience in treating the “Yu” Syndrome which manifested similar as depression, e.g. feeling low in mood, low motivation and fatigue. Acupuncture and TCM traditionally are used to alleviate the above signs and symptoms accompanying depression. TCM are trying to address the root causes and underlying imbalances that have contributed to the problem naturally.
Acupuncturists are aware of the powerful interplay between our body and emotions, the two are inseparable. When we experience emotional upset, our internal environment becomes damaged. Likewise, when we experience physical problems, our emotions can become greatly affected.
Over time, this disruption leads to what an acupuncturist calls “stagnant” or “depressed” Qi or vital energy. Qi is a concept unique to the theories and principles of TCM. According to these theories, Qi is the vital energy that animates the body and protects it from illness and pain. Qi flows through the body in channels called meridians. When Qi within the meridians becomes stagnant or depressed, physical and/or emotional symptoms result. Practitioners of acupuncture and TCM are specifically trained to detect and correct the balance and movement of Qi within the human body. Treatments are focused toward balancing and activating the Qi by manipulating corresponding points on the body.
The stagnant or depressed Qi diagnosis is unique to acupuncture and TCM. Over time, if it is not addressed it can lead to a disharmony within our body, affecting our physical and emotional well-being. If not properly treated, this imbalance may lead to depression.
What will an acupuncturist do?
An acupuncturist will take a complete health history in order to find out where, why, and how Qi has become stagnant or depressed. They will develop a unique treatment plan tailored to specific symptoms and sings of each individual.
The goals of such a plan will be to activate the movement of Qi throughout the entire body, as well as to address the root causes and underlying imbalances. By treating the body as a whole and unique organism, your acupuncturist will support you in your recovery from illness and disease, moving you toward health and happiness.
Acupuncture and TCM are natural, drug-free and alternative. The focus is to restore a balanced and continuous flow of Qi throughout the body and mind.
This boost could bring relief from symptoms of many conditions, including pain, depression, and headache.
Acupuncture is not a “quick fix”. You may need to receive weeks or months of treatment in order to see lasting results. Give yourself the time required so that you can experience the maximum benefits acupuncture and TCM have to offer.
Surround yourself with people whom you trust to provide objective and unbiased input and insight. Develop a support group of friends, loved ones, family and co-workers who can lend an ear and listen to you.
Breathe, go slow, and think things through.
Don’t make too many life changes all at once. A few at a time will support you and not overwhelm your emotions.
Try to get at least 20 minutes of simple exercise at least 3 days per week, if not more. Take a daily walk, breathe deeply and let it all go.
Remember, you are not alone. Others are having similar experiences.
Research – Acupuncture for depression symptoms
One study in 2013, researchers found that electroacupuncture was just as effective as fluoxetine (Prozac) in easing depression symptoms. EA and fluoxetine had similar curative effects on DD patients. EA had a faster onset of action, better response rate, and better improvement rate than fluoxetine. Both fluoxetine and EA treatment restored the normal concentration of GDNF in the serum of DD patients.
Antidepressants including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are known to cause secondary sexual dysfunction with prevalence rates as high as 50%-90%. In another study in 2013, researchers examined the effect of acupuncture on sexual dysfunction, one of the most common antidepressant side effects. Significant improvement among male participants was noted in all areas of sexual functioning, as well as in both anxiety and depressive symptoms. Female participants reported a significant improvement in libido and lubrication and a nonsignificant trend toward improvement in several other areas of function. The research concluded that acupuncture plays a potential role in the treatment of the sexual side-effects of SSRIs and SNRIs as well for a potential benefit of integrating medical and complementary and alternative practitioners.
A Clinical Systematic Review of Acupuncture for Treating Anxiety and Depression in Women in 2013: With respect to 6 reviewed studies, there is high-level evidence to support the use of acupuncture for treating major depressive disorder in pregnancy.
Researchers at the School of Psychiatry at the University of NSW report finding that acupuncture produces significant changes in parts of the brain that regulate emotional states and is a biologically plausible treatment for depression and other neuropsychiatric disorders.