How can acupuncture help with anxiety and depression?
It is normal for humans to feel down or nervous at times! It becomes problematic when the mood lasts for an extended amount of time and interferes with everyday functioning.
According to the CDC, 1 out of every 6 adults will have depression at some time in their life. Anxiety disorders often go hand in hand with depression. Over 40 million adults in the U.S. have an anxiety disorder.
In Chinese medicine, mental health disorders are a result of disharmony within the five organs. Each organ houses an emotion and when the qi becomes stagnated (usually through external events, disease or inner self-critical tendencies) the emotions can get stuck.
A placebo-controlled study investigated the effects of body needle acupuncture in 43 patients with minor depression and 13 patients with generalized anxiety disorder. The study found that after 10 acupuncture treatments, patients showed a significantly larger clinical improvement compared to the placebo group, stating: “needle acupuncture leads to a significant clinical improvement as well as to a remarkable reduction in anxiety symptoms in patients with minor depression or with generalized anxiety disorders”.
A powerful acupuncture point used for anxiety is Pericardium 6. It translates to“inner gate” referring to the physical pericardium, a membranous sac that surrounds the heart within our body. This point helps calm the mind, open and ease the heart, and relieve nausea. For depression, Gallbladder 13, “root spirit”, calms the mind, settles the spirit, and relieves anxiety deriving from constant worry and fixed thoughts.
Managing anxiety and depression takes a tool kit of behaviors. Lifestyle changes you might want to make include: individual, group, or art therapy, physical activity such as cardio and weight lifting, eating a balanced diet, getting adequate sleep, cease drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes.
Treatment plans depend on how the individual’s body responds to acupuncture. In general 1-2 treatments for 6 weeks is a good starting point.
Herbal medicines that may be prescribed for anxiety include Evergreen- Calm, it promotes the free flow of qi and blood while nourishing our center. For depression, Evergreen- Shine is designed to release the build up of qi, blood, food, and phlegm to let them flow more easily throughout the body.