Suffer from depression? Acupuncture can help
Depression is commonly treated with anti-depressant medication and/or psychological interventions. Patients with depression are common users of complementary therapies, such as acupuncture, either as a replacement for, or adjunct to, their conventional treatments.
Current models of depression suggest that changes in the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis, dysfunction among stress hormones, and imbalance in neurotransmitters, such as noradrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine, may be key factors in the onset and maintenance of major depressive disorder. Results from animal experiments suggest a multitarget antidepressant effect of acupuncture, which may be related to amino acid metabolism and inflammatory pathways, especially the Toll-like receptor signaling pathway, tumor necrosis factor (TNF) signaling pathway, and nuclear factor kappa light chain enhancer of activated B cells (NF-kappa B) signaling pathway. In addition, similar to antidepressant medications, acupuncture is capable of affecting the neurotransmitter levels of serotonin and noradrenaline, along with the adenylate cyclase cyclic adenosine monophosphate-protein kinase A (AC-cAMPPKA) cascade within the central nervous system.
A recent review and meta-analysis examined the effectiveness of acupuncture in major depressive disorder. This review analysed 29 studies with 2268 participants and found that acupuncture showed clinically significant reductions in the severity of depression compared to usual care. There is a link between numbers of acupuncture treatments and the reduction of depression: more treatments, the more reduction in the severity of depression.
Armour M et al J Clin Med. 2019 Jul 31;8(8). pii: E1140. doi: 10.3390/jcm8081140.
Acupuncture can help reduce depression and anxiety
Depression affects people in many ways and can cause symptoms from psychological, physical to social symptoms.
The psychological symptoms of depression include: persistent low mood or sadness, feeling anxious or worried, feeling irritable and intolerant of others, feeling hopeless and helpless, having low self-esteem, without motivation or interest in things, having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself.
The physical symptoms of depression include: moving or speaking more slowly than usual, changes in appetite or weight, constipation, unexplained aches and pains, lack of energy, loss of libido, change of menstrual cycle, disturbed sleep.
The social symptoms of depression include: not doing well at work, avoiding contact with friends and taking part in fewer social activities, neglecting, having difficulties with other people.
Research has shown that acupuncture can help depression. For example,
There was a study with 120 female patients with depression treated with acupuncture and music. Acupuncture points used include Baihui (GV 20), Shenting (GV 24), Neiguan (PC 6), Shenmen (HT 7), Sanyinjiao (SP 6) and Taichong (LR 3). Result has shown that combined acupuncture and the music, ot acupuncture alone can help reduces the severity of depression and anxiety.
Healing from emotional and psychological trauma with acupuncture
Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extremely stressful events that traumatise the brain and leave you struggling with upsetting and depressing emotions, memories, and anxiety that won’t go away.
It can be caused by onetime events or ongoing, persistent stress that occur repeatedly. The symptoms include emotional & psychological symptoms: such as confusion, difficulty concentrating, anger, irritability, mood swings, anxiety and fear, depression, negative thoughts etc.; and physical symptoms such as insomnia or nightmares, fatigue, being startled easily, racing heartbeat, edginess and agitation, aches and pains, muscle tension etc.
Mental and emotional release can help you release post-traumatic stress, anxiety, fear and depression, other negative emotions, consequently, heal from trauma.
Acupuncture can help regulate brain region where controlling emotions such as amygdala and nervous system and balance chemicals which plays a vital role in emotional processing to help mental and emotional release.
Kathleen K.S. Hui et al Auton Neurosci. 2010 Oct 28; 157(0): 81–90.
Having pain and depressed, tried acupuncture?
Chronic pain and depression are hand in hand. Chronic pain affects up to 20% general populations. It is persistent or intermittent pain that lasts for more than 3 months despite a normal tissue healing time. It associates with poor quality of life and often causes depression. Depression can be characterized by psychological and physical symptoms, including low mood or sadness, lack of energy, lack of motivation, insomnia, low sex drive and an inability to enjoy life. Chronic pain may induce depression, and people suffering from depression may also present abnormal pain perception and modulation, which increases the risk of developing chronic pain. About 85% of people affected with chronic pain suffer from severe depression.
The pathological process of both chronic pain and depression involve neuroinflammation. Neuroinflammation is an innate immune response of the nervous system to injury, infection or neurodegenerative disease characterized by the activation of resident glial cells, including microglia and astrocytes; release of cytokines and chemokines; and activation and infiltration of leukocytes.
These make them complex and difficult to treat. Acupuncture can reduce inflammation and is effective for chronic pain and depression.
Depression and anxiety are most commonly treated with acupuncture after lower back pain in the US.
Acupuncture has been a popular alternative medicine in the United States for several decades. It becomes common knowledge that acupuncture can release pain. People with chronic pain often seek acupuncture treatments and it is currently emerging as a unique non-pharmaceutical choice for pain against opioid crisis in the US. For what other conditions do people seek acupuncture treatment in the US? There was a survey studied the conditions that the most commonly treated acupuncture conditions. 419 acupuncturists across the US participated the study. Top 10 conditions that people go for acupuncture are lower back pain, depression, anxiety, headache, arthritis, allergies, general pain, female infertility, insomnia, neck pain and frozen shoulder. Top 99 conditions were grouped into a few categories: pain represents the largest category; and mental health management, especially for mood disorders, is in greatest demand. Immune system dysfunctions, gastrointestinal diseases, gynecology and neurology have also had high ranks.
As you can see that depression and anxiety are most commonly treated with acupuncture after lower back pain. Depression and Anxiety are two different medical conditions, their symptoms, causes, and treatments can often overlap.
Wang H et al Am J Chin Med. 2018 Oct 9:1-33. doi: 10.1142/S0192415X18500738.