Are you thinking of using acupuncture for depression? A number of new studies are showing the results might be a lot more impressive than you might expect.

The use of acupuncture to treat a number of conditions is nothing new. From pain to infertility to emotional disorders, acupuncture has become one of the most common methods of alternative medicine treatment in modern times – and with good reason.

Acupuncture and Depression

Perhaps one of the most telling studies in the subject is the one published in PLoS Medicine journal, where researchers looked at the effect of acupuncture in the treatment of depression – and found that it works slightly better than counseling to help patients.

In fact, after three months, 33 percent of people using acupuncture reported feeling better, while only 29 percent of those in therapy could say the same. About 70 percent of the 755 people in the study also took antidepressants showing that it’s possible to combine both traditional and alternative therapy for optimal results.

Even better, the beneficial effects of acupuncture lasted about three months after the study ended. This could indicate that continuing treatment could help provide long-term relief to those dealing with depression and other mood disorders.

When Nothing Else Works

In another small study, three women with severe depression who didn’t respond to traditional treatment (medication and psychotherapy) were treated with acupuncture. For all three, the addition of Acupuncture Electric Stimulation Therapy (Acu-EST) helped. This is a type of acupuncture where needles are stimulated by a small electrical current. The women experienced improvement in their symptoms after just a few sessions without any of the side effects associated with more invasive forms of treatment.

Another example of the power of acupuncture is the fact that it can be effectively used to treat endogenous depression, a less common form of depression that doesn’t respond well to treatment and is connected to thyroid hormones. This type of depression also presents additional symptoms that make life difficult for the patient – including insomnia, loss of appetite and even unusual body aches.

When treated with acupuncture, patients suffering from endogenous depression improved significantly.

Acupuncture has also been shown as very effective in treating anxiety, which many people with depression also experience. Anxiety often appears in the form of negative thoughts, irregular heartbeats, emotional unbalance and restlessness.

So How Does Acupuncture Work?

Although there’s speculation, scientists haven’t quite figure out how and why acupuncture works. The most accepted theory is that applying the needles at certain points in the body causes the release of endorphins and enkerphalins, two substances responsible for a number of things in the body, including mood and an overall feeling of health and wellbeing.

Other experts believe acupuncture also helps with the production and release of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. These are the “feel good” hormones that are often in low supply in people with depression. Anti-depressant medications usually work by addressing the low level of these hormones as well, so it makes sense that acupuncture would be an effective treatment for depression.

It’s important to keep in mind that clinical depression is a very serious problem and you should not self-treat it without the guidance of a professional. If you’ve been prescribed medication to treat your depression, you should not discontinue its use without approval of your doctor. If you want to try acupuncture, you can do so in addition to any Western treatment you are currently using.



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