Acupuncturist Questions Depression

Does acupuncture help in treating depression?

Is there a way to treat depression with the help of acupuncture? My daughter was diagnosed with clinical depression a month ago, and has been on antidepressants, but I think we should start looking into more natural treatments. She's 19 years old.

41 Answers

Absolutely! In Chinese Medicine, there is no difference between a physical, emotional or spiritual imbalance therefore, depression could be easily treated with dietary changes and natural remedies to help the body with physical issues. Of course, addressing the emotional concerns is important and she should stay under the care of her doctor but many patients report feeling less anxious, happier and less stressed after receiving an acupuncture treatment. Incorporating other modalities with the acupuncture such as Cranial-Sacral Therapy and EFT Tapping may be some other options as well.
Acupuncture and herbs may help your daughter feel much better. I am currently helping an adolescent with depression, and she's feeling better. If she has a lot of emotional turmoil and acupuncture does not seem to be helping within a reasonable period of time (about 10-12 acupuncture sessions), then look for a psychologist. I recommend a psychologist who uses cognitive therapy since according to many studies, this is the most effective psychological therapy for depression.
Yes. Acupuncture is a natural treatment in treating depression.

Dr. Hui (Grace) Gao LAc., TCMD
I have helped many people with depression and once we do an evaluation i can give you more information on how it can work.
Yes, when depressions affects young women, we are likely going to ask a lot of questions regarding her menstrual cycle. Many times emotional disorders are regulated by hormones and the changes that occur due to menstrual cycles. We can not recommend that your daughter does not take her prescription, only the prescribing physician can do that and in a controlled way.
Acupuncture can help with depression by regulating the lymbic system responsible for emotional expression. Depending on the antidepressant your daughter is taking, ending treatment may do more harm than good, however. There is clinical evidence of some "withdrawal" side effects to consider before ending medication abruptly. You can ask your daughter's doctor about how safely to wean off whatever medication she is taking. That being said, there is also growing evidence for better outcomes with depression when treated with combined drug therapy and acupuncture. The authors of this systematic review seem somewhat skeptical about the benefit of acupuncture, but then express surprise mixed with caution at the results: "This systematic review and meta-analysis suggest that acupuncture combined with antidepressant medication is effective, has an early onset of action, safe and well-tolerated over the first 6-week treatment period. Moreover, this treatment combination appears to result in greater therapeutic efficacy than SSRI therapy alone." Read more here:

I agree with you. Your daughter is too young to be on med. I believe acupuncture and oriental medicine can offer some nature ways to treat depression.

Please don't hesitate to seek an acupuncturist and start treatment soon.

Jonathan Fang

Acupuncture can help, alongside herbs and western supplements.
Yes, acupuncture has been known to help with depression for thousands of years. Acupuncture can help the body release more serotonin and endorphins, which are the body's natural pain killers and feel good chemical. This is one of the many ways acupuncture can help with depression.
Hi! I'm so glad you're asking about acupuncture for depression rather than just slapping your daughter on antidepressants, which can have detrimental physical and emotional effects if used long-term.

Emotional problems are probably my favorite things to treat because acupuncture works so incredibly well. There are also herbal formulas that can assist, but honestly, I rarely have to add those into the mix because the acupuncture does so well.

As with most issues, it will take a series of treatments to help your daughter, and she may find that she needs to go back periodically for "tune ups." But stick with it and be patient. It's really worth it in the end.

As an aside, you may want to find a good psychologist or counselor (they don't prescribe drugs like psychiatrists) for her to see at the same time. If this has come on recently, it may have an experiential cause that she needs help working through, and the talk therapy should give her tools to use throughout her life to help her get through other difficult times.

Hope this helps!
YES. Yes. yes. Bring her for acupuncture. It has proven very useful in treating depression. There are also easy to take herbals that can be very helpful. Of course, I can't say how much or how often. I'd consider giving it at least 1-3 months of treatments. All the best on caring for your daughter.


Alan Schroepfer, LAc
Absolutely! Acupuncture in combination with medication in the beginning, with the intention of slowly reducing the need for meds as her doctor feels is safe.
Yes. Acupuncture can be very good for treating depression. You will want to coordinate the treatment with her doctor. Also, you should understand that acupuncture is a therapy, and it will involve a course of treatment, not a single treatment.
Thank you for your question.

It is possible acupuncture can aid, is the simple answer, and could be worth trying. Be sure to discuss all additional treatments with the doctor prescribing medications, not a mid-level such as a nurse practitioner or physician assistant. Never stop prescribed medications “cold turkey” as this can be dangerous. I would not recommend any herbs since she is on medications. Recommend having her vitamin D level checked. Finally, counseling and behavioral therapies can in some cases work as well as prescriptions, and it seems they work best together in Western medicine research. Exercise relieves symptoms, as simple as walking regularly, and yoga/meditation can help. Sleep hygiene and restorative sleep (non-medicated, but for melatonin) are a foundation of treatment for depression. You cannot get better if you are not sleeping. Also crucial is having a safe person or place that she trusts in times of need and doubt.

Again communicate clearly and be transparent with all involved in her care. (This is not a substitution for your provider’s medical care and guidance.)

Be well,

Dr. B
Depression is in a huge rise all over the world, especially in the U.S. and Europe. And western medical doctors are very generous on prescription of depression medicine, although in most cases acupuncture and herbal medicine can be a big help for controlling the condition. So, please take your young lady to an acupuncturist. Although she should not stop her medicine since she already started, but with acupuncture and herbs, she can work with her primary doctor to cut down and eventually cut the western medicine drug that she is taking.

Dr. Maryam Mansouri, Lac. OMD.
Yes, acupuncture can help depression/anxiety. If we can find out what is the underlying cause for her depression, then we can help her more.
So sorry to hear that about your daughter. Yes, Acupuncture is a natural alternative to help with conditions including depression, grief and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to name a few. In my own clinic we treat these condition quite often and with good result. Find a licensed Acupuncture Physician in your area that can help your daughter to get well naturally. Yours in Health!
Acupuncture is really great addressing pain and stress/insomnia issues. Of course, it’s important to find out what the root of the problem is; I have helped patients with their depression through acupuncture treatments. Even chemical imbalances can be addressed with acupuncture, but it also depends.
Yes, your acupuncturist can definitely help.
Yes! Acupuncture works wonderfully for addressing the underlying cause of depression, especially in combination with Chinese herbs.
Yes, acupuncture does help in treatment of depression. Depending on the origins of the depression, the treatment might vary. Usually, a combination of acupuncture treatment, herbal medication, diet, and exercise can eliminate most underlying causes of depression. At 19, I feel your daughter is too young to begin a lifelong course of medication. So, do look for a local acupuncturist to begin treating your daughter.

John Holt, LAc., DiplOM
Yes, at our office, we have a high success rate for treating anxiety, depression, and stress with acupuncture. We focus on dopamine, serotonin, and cortisol levels.
Yes, anxiety and depression are common reasons to get acupuncture. Acupuncture regulates depleted chemicals in the brains which are called neurotransmitters. When these chemicals become normal and can reach the desire cortex, the mood will light up.
Yes, absolutely. The Upledger Institute has found that acupuncture increases the levels of serotonin and dopamine in the body, causing feelings of relaxation and happiness.
Yes, we treat depression quite a lot and get very good results. Our initial treatment is acupuncture and possibly cupping. If the condition warrants, we may also add an herbal formula, combined with the acupuncture treatment to achieve and maintain balance. Most patients feel better after the first treatment and then continue to improve. Each person heals at their own pace, but, given her age, she should balance quickly.

Thanks for your inquiry!

Dr. Yoo
Yes, there is. It is a smart decision to avoid prescription medications whenever possible.
Acupuncture does help depression and symptoms and signs related to it, naturally.


Scott Sang In LeeChun Am Acupuncture천암 한의원 
Acupuncture can definitely help, but I wouldn't suggest taking her off any medications without first consulting her doctor. As the acupuncture works, and she starts to feel improvement, we can work with her doctor to slowly wean her off the antidepressant.
Yes, acupuncture helps with depression, anxiety, and other mental issues significantly. Please find an acupuncturist who was trained in a program including Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture.
Acupuncture is fantastic for managing a variety of emotional imbalances, including depression. It is a great natural solution for your daughter, who may not wish to take medications at her age.

Read more about acupuncture treating depression on our blog:

Acupuncture can certainly help with depression. There are acupuncture points that can help improve serotonin uptake to help with improved mood. Other points regulate the vagus nerve, which enhances the relaxation response in the body. I think it's important to also do counseling in addition to acupuncture; they work great together.
Hope this was helpful and I wish the best for your daughter.

It depends on how severe her depression is. Acupuncture does help, but like any other medicine, it has its limits. A 19-year-old should benefit from acupuncture, BUT you should talk with your primary caregiver to know all details about your child's condition and then consider whether acupuncture is something that you want to try.
Thank you for the inquiry.

Acupuncture, especially when combined with Chinese herbs, is very effective in addressing depression along with accompanying symptoms such as migraines, fatigue, weight issues, thyroid disorders, and bowel movement problems, to name a few. It is also very effective not just in addressing the depression directly, but also the underlying root of the cause of depression. I hope this answers your question.
Have a great day.


Rene Ng (DOM, AP)
I would agree, depression has many different causes. We look at the body as a whole and correct imbalances. Nutrition deficiencies and gut imbalances are a huge factor in mental health. Catching these types of problems early have a better chance at correction vs. waiting.
I have treated quite a few patients with acupuncture for many emotional disturbances. You will want to keep her moderated with her medications so stay in communication with the prescribing MD as well as the L.Ac. so dosages can be adjusted accordingly.

It may be helpful if your daughter sees a Worsley Style 5-Element Acupuncturist because emotional issues is their specialty. They may also be called "Classical 5-Element" practitioners.

If you cannot find a 5E practitioner, you can still have her treated by a Licensed Acupuncturist, just research a few in your area and find one who is comfortable treating her and one who will respect the medications and it's monitoring.
Yes, acupuncture can definitely help with depression. Most studies show acupuncture is at least as effective as SSRI drugs (prozac, paxil, zoloft) without the negative side effects these substances can often induce. Depression is probably the #2 issue I see in my practice and I usually get great results for my patients. Plan on several visits - it usually takes me somewhere between 5 and 7 - before things start really evening out.

For the best results, make sure you're seeing a board certified and state licensed acupuncturist.
Combinations of Acupuncture treatments, exercise, lifestyle changes, diet, lower stress levels can do wonders for depression. She will need to discuss with a specialist to see the cause of her clinical depression. If you decide to use these natural remedies, please consult with her doctor. Thanks
Mood disorders (depression, stress, anxiety) is an area where acupuncture excels. Your daughter can begin acupuncture treatments while she is still on antidepressants. If her intention is to reduce her medication dosage over time, it is critically important to do that with her doctor. If you could find an acupuncturist who can work with her doctor, this team approach could be very effective in transitioning to a more natural approach in her treatment of depression.