Can Acupuncture Help Depression?

Head shape and brain with text DEPRESSION Blackboard

Depression is a silent killer and acupuncture can help

Depression is a severe medical illness that can lower a person’s quality of life while contributing to the onset of symptoms such as headache, insomnia, fatigue, and malnutrition.

Most cases of depression are treated with prescription drugs that trigger a range of problems of their own. The most frequently prescribed antidepressants all have a long list of adverse side effects. However, researchers are now saying that acupuncture may effectively treat depression in some individuals.

A recent study conducted by researchers in the U.K. examined 755 patients diagnosed as clinically depressed by their primary healthcare physician. The patients were then split into three different groups based on the treatment they were about to receive. One group received one-on-one counselling, another group received “usual care” (antidepressants), and a third group received acupuncture.

To determine the treatment's success, researchers gave patients a health questionnaire at three months and 12 months, asking the patients series of questions regarding their emotions. To researchers’ surprise, one-third of patients treated with acupuncture experienced a 50% or more improvement in their depression score,  whereas 29% of patients from the other groups experienced an improvement.

But this isn’t the only study involving acupuncture and depression. In an issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, researchers found that electroacupuncture – acupuncture needles used in conjunction with a mild electric current – was equally as effective at treating depression as the frequently prescribed antidepressant.

How is the practice of acupuncture able to treat depression? This is a question that health professionals and researchers continue to debate; however, there’s some belief that depression is linked to inadequate Qi – a person’s natural energy or “life force.”

The traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) acupuncture system aims to restore a person’s Qi by correcting imbalances in various channels known as meridians. When placed on the appropriate areas of the body, acupuncture needles stimulate the human body’s natural healing process, which is believed to improve his or her Qi, and subsequently help treat depression.

If you are suffering from depression or anxiety, acupuncture would be a treatment option to help you overcome your blues time.