An In-depth Look at Acupuncture for Depression and Anxiety

It is estimated that over 100 million people worldwide suffer from depression and the number of people suffering with anxiety may be even greater. As the pace of our lives and the stress we endure increases, many of us reach a breaking point where we can no longer effectively cope with life’s demands. More and more people are turning to antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications just to keep up with the stress of the modern world. And while these medications can be extremely effective and helpful, there are other more natural methods for effectively treating depression and anxiety. 

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have been used to effectively treat depression and anxiety for thousands of years. Through a comprehensive approach that includes acupuncture, Chinese Herbal medicine, and dietary therapy we can effectively address a myriad of symptoms that can naturally improve your physical and emotional health. It is essential to remember that there is no one solution that will help everyone as this medicine is grounded in the belief that treatment should be customized to fit the individual patient’s needs. 

However, we can generally view depression and anxiety as the result of one of two conditions in TCM. In many cases depression and anxiety can be the result of stagnant energy (Qi) in the body which results in symptoms of lethargy, irritability, diffuse body pain, and a lack of interest in most activities. Other symptoms that may also be evident include frequent headaches, sluggish or sensitive digestion, and frequent mood swings. One of the key indicators of this type of depression/anxiety is that the person generally feels better with physical exercise and the more exercise they get, the better they feel. In addition, these people may feel worse if they eat heavy, rich foods that result in an increased level of stagnation and thus a more profound feeling of depression and/or anxiety. 

Another common condition that results in depression and anxiety is what is known in TCM as blood deficiency. This should not be confused with anemia, but is rather a condition where the person’s blood has become depleted typically from overwork, poor diet, or stress. The symptoms associated with this condition include extreme fatigue, an inability to get out of bed, a profound sense of despair, frequent weeping, a lack of interest in anything, and a feeling of being unable to keep up with the demands of life. Physical symptoms might include dry skin and hair, insomnia, a lack of muscle tone, poor eyesight, and heart palpitations. With this type of condition the person usually feels unable to exercise or worse after exercising. In most cases this is a much more profound case in comparison to a person with stagnant Qi, and is frequently the cause of postpartum depression. 

It is very important in these cases to assess each person’s needs and provide the appropriate treatment. Far too many people suffering from anxiety and depression are given the same type of pharmaceutical treatments with widely varying results. Our mental health has a direct relationship with our physical health and until we start addressing all aspects of a person’s health, we will be unable to provide the comprehensive care that everyone deserves.


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