Acupuncture – A Powerful Tool Against Depression

Acupuncture, a traditional Chinese holistic approach to preventing and treating certain health care issues, such as pain, is the process of inserting tiny needles into the skin throughout various pressure points on the body that effect energy and ‘Qi’, also known as life force.

Depression, which is a mood disorder that manifests through psychological and physical symptoms can bring daily life to a halt for many who are suffering with this problem. Depression often goes un-diagnosed due to the presence of these physical symptoms. Patients may mistake their symptoms as a sign of the flu or some other common illness. If left untreated, emotional and physical symptoms can spiral out of control. Patients who are severely depressed may even entertain thoughts of suicide.

Common symptoms include:

General feeling of sadness
Crying for no apparent reason
Poor sleeping cycles
Body aches
Lack of interest
Withdrawal from society and friendships
General feeling of hopelessness

Treatment for depression usually includes psychotherapy which is often accompanied by the administration of anti-depressant drugs. These drugs have the ability to normalize activity in the areas of the brain responsible for controlling mood and emotions. But these drugs often have side effects, and typically do not address the physical symptoms of depression. Recent studies conducted at the University of Arizona have indicated that the use of acupuncture tailored to treat specific symptoms of depression lead to a significant reduction in the manifestation of these symptoms. In fact, over 50% of participants saw such a drastic change in their symptoms that they no longer met the clinical criteria for depression.

Chinese acupuncture, which pre-dates recorded history, has been most widely used for the treatment of pain and pain management. Many patients suffering from depression experience a variety of body aches and pain such as headaches, backaches, stomach issues and even digestive problems. The occurrence of these physical symptoms often adds to the feeling of hopelessness experienced by someone who is depressed. Finding a solution, or a way to manage these physical symptoms can go a long way in improving the quality of life for patients.

However, acupuncture is may not only used to treat physical symptoms of depression in the future. Studies conducted at The University of New South Wales’ School of Psychology demonstrated that this holistic Chinese form of medicine was capable of stimulating changes in the parts of the brain that regulate emotional states. So far, tests have only been performed using healthy subjects, but due to the success of these test, will be followed up with a similar study involving depressed subjects.

Patients suffering from depression can do a number of things towards beating this condition. If you or someone you love is experiencing any of the basic symptoms of depression, schedule an appointment with a doctor. He or she can refer you to a licensed acupuncturist, as well as someone who is trained to help you work through the emotional issues that come with depression. Reach out to friends and family, and if possible, find a way to incorporate physical activity into the daily routine. Exercise has been shown to greatly reduce the symptoms and occurrence of depression. If you are experiencing aches and pains that might be preventing you from engaging in physical activity, be sure to address this issue with your acupuncturist. A few sessions can go a long way in providing the pain relief needed to get back to living your life.

If you don’t have a general family doctor, or your doctor is unable to refer you to a licensed acupuncturist, you will have to do the research yourself, or entrust the job to a family member or friend. Always select a practitioner who is not only licensed, but perhaps specializes in the treatment of your specific symptoms.

If you have a fear of needles, be sure to discuss this with your selected practitioner. Some acupuncturists offer eye pillows, and take special care to keep the fine needles out of site. Keeping your eyes closed during the treatment and addressing any fears or issues with your practitioner prior to your treatment will not only help to ease your anxiety, but will aid in your relaxation, which can be key to having a successful session.

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