Acupuncturist Questions Acupuncture

Is acupuncture good for mental health?

I have depression and I heard that acupuncture can really help with my mental health. Is that true? How does acupuncture do this?

11 Answers

Yes, acupuncture can help with stress, anxiety and depression. You need to get Chinese medical diagnosis first to find out what causes your depression. There are certain acupuncture points that can help to release the pressure, thus help with depression.
Emotional pain such as anxiety and depression are probably my favorite things to treat because acupuncture works so well. Unlike western medicine, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is truly holistic in that it recognizes and treats the emotional body at the same time it is treating the physical body. They are inseparable to us. I would highly recommend you see an acupuncturist for your issues. You'll wish you had started a long time ago.
Yes. Acupuncture and herbal medicine can help relax, re-energize, and enhanced sense of well-being. Blockage of Qi can be caused by inflammation, scar tissue, environment toxins, life's stressors, chronic anxiety, physical trauma, emotional trauma, etc... Acupuncture keeps the flow of energy unblocked and treat the source of the mental health.
Acupuncture can be a wonderful asset to your mental health regimen. In Chinese medicine we do not separate the physical body from the mental body or emotional body, so through questions and seeing signs symptoms that we recognize we can help diagnose a treatment strategy to balance your emotional health as we balance your physical health.

I work with a style called Worsley Five-Element Acupuncture. It primarily works on the emotional side of a patients health, so if you can find a practitioner who is trained in 5-Elements (Worsley Style) then that can be even better for you. If not, most all practitioners know how to treat emotional imbalances on a general level.

Quite often lifestyle, diet, environment, family, friends, job etc can all contribute to your issue, so expect the practitioner to talk to you a bit like a psychologist might. They'll ask questions to learn how you react and how you think and together they can help guide you to a more fulfilling path or help you navigate your choices in life more appropriately.

Good luck, be sure to find a Licensed Acupuncturist (L.Ac.) in your area. If you try it and don't like the first practitioner so much, give another practitioner a try. Just like any other doctor or service, not everyone is a good fit for you. Look around and you'll find one who you click with.
Yes it can help. There is an article from Mad in America Science, Psychiatry, and Social Justice which reads that New Data Supports Acupuncture as a Treatment for Depression. Using certain points to stimulate and address the main problem causing the depression.
It can and we work by getting to the root of why you suffer from depression. We understand the body very differently than western medicine does. While they may see only a chemical imbalance in your brain, we look at your entire body to understand why you feel this way. There are many contributing factors and many reasons why depression develops in Chinese medicine so treatments vary greatly and are individualized for every patient.

Acupuncture can also be used to support western medical treatments such as therapy and medications. Some patients are even able to wean off their medications. If you are taking any antidepressants or other medications to treat your depression, work with your Doctor to adjust doses. DO NOT adjust these medications on your own. If done improperly, it can lead to major mood instability, severe depression, and even suicidal thoughts.
Seek out a licensed acupuncturist and they will be happy to assess and answer all of your questions.
Yes it can treat mental health by regulating hormones and balancing out the neurotransmitters in the body.
Acupuncture treatment aids to alleviate stress and depression symptoms by releasing endorphins, the body’s own natural painkillers, and improving the circulation of blood and lymphatic fluids which bring fresh oxygen to body tissues. This increased oxygen flow eliminates waste products from inside the body and enhances recovery from diseases.

According to recent studies, acupuncture treatment can also help to decrease the stress hormone cortisol, lower blood pressure, reduce the heart rate, and relax muscle tissue. Acupuncture is a valuable adjunct therapy for those suffering from mental health disorders. Acupuncture keeps the flow of energy unblocked, and individualized treatment and holistic approach, acupuncture practitioners consequently treat the true source of the depression.
Good question. Yes, studies have shown that for mild to moderate depression acupuncture is almost always at least as effective as SSRI drugs (things like Prozac, Paxil or Zoloft).

The how is a little tricky. Let's start with the SSRI drugs. If you look at a patient information leaflet for one of these drugs and check out the mechanism of action section you'll see that we don't really understand how these substances work. We know that, in many cases, they do and we're willing to tolerate the side-effects to achieve the beneficial result of the drug.

Acupuncture in depression is in a somewhat similar boat. We don't have a clear mechanism of action. We do have some good ideas about what's going on: promotion of the parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system as well as effects on the GABA system in the brain. Does this account for the entire effect? We aren't sure. What we do know is: as I mentioned above, acupuncture is almost always at least as effective as the SSRI drugs when tested head-to-head in mild to moderate depression.

The advantage goes to acupuncture because it has a very low risk/side-effect/adverse event profile. All other things being equal acupuncture, performed by a licensed acupuncturist who graduated from Chinese medical school, is fairly safe. Another consideration: in the long run, acupuncture is likely to be more cost effective as well.

Essentially, we're comparing two things: we don't have a clear understanding of why either one achieves the effect it achieves, but we're pretty sure both things achieve the effect we want. One thing has a long laundry list of potential negative effects and, over time, can be very expensive. The other thing has a much shorter list of potential negative effects and over time is cheaper.