Acupuncture Relieves Depression and Anxiety
One question that comes up constantly in my NYC clinic is, “Can acupuncture help cure depression?” The answer is a resounding Yes.
The first thing is that it’s not ‘all in your head’. There are physiological issues at work making you feel this way. The second piece of good news is that we don’t use synthesized chemicals, i.e., anti-depressants in our practice. We work holistically to treat body, mind and, yes, spirit. We begin by checking to see if there is a hormonal component. 80% to 90% of people come up positive. For those patients, we find what will repair that condition using acupuncture and hormone balancing supplements. If appropriate, we utilize hypnosis, teaching you self-hypnosis so you can relieve anxiety on your own. Unlike the one-size-fits-many little pill that currently passes for the ‘cure’, our goal is relieve your precise symptoms–ASAP.
Treating Secondary Issues
We also address any secondary symptoms as well. Some may have digestive problems; others suffer with sleep issues. Physical symptoms may include low back, shoulder and arm pain. In all of these cases we jumpstart your body’s healing mechanism with acupuncture. Many with a frozen sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight) require a combination of acupuncture, herbs and self-hypnosis to re-take control of his/her life. That is always our goal. To give you back your life.
How Does Acupuncture Treat Depression?
Western medicine acknowledges that what we call depression (an umbrella word use to describe a galaxy of symptoms) typically has physical symptoms that are unique to each individual. In one person they might manifest as lethargy, while another might experience hyperactivity. One person might binge on food; another might have no appetite. Using our integrative approach (Acupuncture, hormone balancing, etc.) we treat a patient’s presenting symptoms and the root cause. One depressed patient may be unable to sleep, while another one sleeps 12 hours a day. Our treatment strategy addresses the specifics of that person’s symptomology and the reason behind it. If our strategy isn’t working, we adjust it, again depending on what symptoms we may see.
The outcome for most depression and anxiety, after just a few treatments, is often a feeling of calm, along with a sense of clarity. With long term depression, a longer series of treatments ought to be expected for longer-term results. These typically include reduced fear and stress levels, improved sleep patterns, and an overall improvement in mood.
From the Psychiatric Times (May, 2009,) titled, “The Role of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Depression”
(The italics have been added, as they directly address the chemistry of Depression):
“Acupuncture is being integrated into Western medicine, particularly for treatment of pain, nausea, asthma, and neurological conditions. Although the exact mechanism of action for acupuncture is unknown, it is associated with an increase in the level of neurobiologically active substances, such as endorphins and enkephalins. There are also data indicating that acupuncture induces the release of norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine.”
Those last chemicals are a class of compounds called SSRI’s that are typically found in anti-depressants.
The First Steps
The initial intake, the acupuncturist does a differential diagnosis. Is there a medical basis for the existence of the depression? The list of medical conditions that exhibit as depression/anxiety includes hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, anemia, hypoglycemia, and withdrawal from sedatives and drugs. Coronary artery disease, with chest pain and cardiac symptoms can mimic depression/anxiety states. Once medical conditions are eliminated, we can treat from a functional root.
Depression that is considered chronic, including bipolar depression, may require long term treatment, sometimes up to 6-9 months, or more, before full equilibrium is restored. The sooner the problem is addressed, the quicker the recovery. A person experiencing feelings of depression or anxiety that is situational, i.e., for less than one year can usually expect a faster response. Treating functional depression is not an easy task, but if a person is committed to their healing process, they may find themselves feeling better, without medication. And that is always our goal.