Acupuncture for Anxiety, Depression & Stress
Most people get off the acupuncture couch saying how calm and relaxed they feel. It is an effective treatment to combat anxiety, stress, and depression.
At times life can be challenging. Juggling work, relationships, your own, and other’s expectations of you can make you feel stressed. You may feel anxious, depressed, unable to cope, or in general unease.
Stress can also cause:
- irritable bowel syndrome
- tense muscles and chronic back pain
- tiredness and lethargy (Shaw, 2000)
to name but a few. Acupuncture has a good track record in treating these stress induced conditions.
Many Acupuncture points have specific functions. Their names give an indication of additional uses.
Liv 14 (Qimen) Gate of Hope is a point of vision and renewal, opening from hopelessness into a new cycle of life. It is also an excellent point to treat stomach pain, vomiting, and hiccupping.
Points on the head are frequently calming. Yintang is an excellent point to calm the mind and balance hormones. Baihui (One Hundred Meetings) is used to gather and calm the mind at times with 100 scattered thoughts, fears, and anxieties. It is also an excellent point for lifting prolapse and treating miscarriage.
Chinese herbal medicine can support you during times of anxiety or depression. Mei Gui Hua (Rose) is used across the globe to support the heart at times of anxiety or sadness. He Huan Pi (Albizzia bark), is translated as Collective Happiness Bark. It lifts the spirits, eases irritability depression. Bai He (Lily Bulb) is known for its ability to soften grief. These herbs would form part of an individualized prescription.
Research on Stress and Acupuncture
There is increasing research on acupuncture treatment for stress and depression.
Acupuncture treatment can block the release of stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. This is invaluable when going through times of chronic stress and anxiety. (Eshkevari et al, 2013)
Pregnancy is a time when many women are overjoyed at the prospect of becoming a mother. This may not be the case for all women; some may become significantly depressed. Acupuncture treatment is shown to reduce both depression during pregnancy as well as post natal depression. It can support other pregnancy related health conditions while lifting depression and calming anxiety. (Manber et al 2004)
Other studies show acupunctures ability to regulate neurotransmitters and hormones. These include serotonin, which supports mood and social behavior. Dopamine stimulates pleasure in the brain, and GABA which reduces anxiety. These all support your emotional balance and combat the effect of stress. (Lee et al, 2009; Zhou et al, 2008)
Conventional treatment includes medication such as anti-depressants and anxiety drugs. It also recommends talking therapies e.g. cognitive behavioural therapy and relaxation techniques. (NHS Choices, 2016).
Acupuncture treatment may used in addition to conventional treatments. For example, researchers showed acupuncture and counseling significantly reduced the severity of depressive episodes. It also kept the condition at bay for up to a year. These treatments involve no unwanted side effects. (MacPherson et al, 2017).
MacPherson H, Vickers A, Bland M, Torgerson D, Corbett M, Spackman E, Saramago P, Woods B, Weatherly H, Sculpher M, Manca A, Richmond S, Hopton A, Eldred J & Watt I.. (2017). Acupuncture for chronic pain and depression in primary care: a programme of research. Programme Grants for Applied Research . 5 (3), 2-4.
NHS Choices. (2016). Stress, anxiety and depression. Available: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/Free-therapy-or-counselling.aspx. Last accessed 14 August 2017.
NHS Choices. (2015) Antidepressants – Side effects Available: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Antidepressant-drugs/Pages/Side-effects.aspx Last accessed 14 August 2017.
Shaw, A. (2000). Physical, psychological and behavioural manifestations of stress The journal of the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health. The journal of the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health. 120 (1), 8-9.
ZHOU, Q.Z et al (2008). Regulation effects of electro-acupuncture on monoamine neurotransmitter and GABA in rats with chronic emotional stress-induced anxiety China Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Pharmacy, 10, p.029.
Lee, Hyo-Jeong, et al. (2009) Substance P and beta-endorphin mediate electro-acupuncture induced analgesia in mouse cancer pain model. Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research 28.1 102.
Eshkevari, L. et al (2003) Acupuncture blocks cold stress-induced increases in the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis in the rat The Journal of endocrinology Vol.217(1), pp.95-104
Journal of Affective Disorders Vol 83, issue 1, 15 Nov 2005 pg 89-95. Acupuncture: a promising treatment for depression during pregnancy. R Manber at al