Around two decades ago, medical practitioners have started researching actively on the link between acupuncture and depression. Studies that have been conducted suggest that acupuncture, together with herbal treatments and psychotherapy can make a holistic, positive treatment for depressed patients.

Depression – The real scenario


Depression is classified as a serious illness. It is accompanied with symptoms ranging from simple headache and insomnia to fatigue. Sometimes, malnutrition can also be a symptom to this condition. All these symptoms affect the patient’s lifestyle. Basically, depressed individuals can run into prescription drugs as treatment for their condition. Prescription drugs, however, can trigger other serious problems in the patient. This pushed medical practitioners to try to look for other treatments thus forcing them to conduct studies on the possibilities of treating depression with acupuncture.

First studies made about medical acupuncture for depression

Rosa Schnyer, an acupuncturist and John Allen, a psychologist from Tucson’s University of Arizona worked on the very first study regarding the effectiveness of acupuncture for treating depression, particularly its symptoms. They have conducted a randomized double-blind study amongst 34 female patients suffering from depression. These participants were further subdivided into 3 groups and have undergone the study for two months.

Group I was assigned with specific acupuncture treatment for depression symptoms while Group II were assigned to general acupuncture, meaning, not specifically for treating depression. Group III received no treatment at all. Amongst these three groups, participants from Group I were noted to have experienced a significant decrease in depression symptoms.

Recent studies on medical acupuncture for depression

Researchers from UK just recently made their own study on using medical acupuncture for depression. This study gathered and examined a total of 755 patients suffering from clinical depression. These patients were divided into three groups. The approach per group included one-one-one counselling, the use of antidepressants and treatment with acupuncture.

This study looked deeper into how patients reacted to each approach. In order to assess their reactions, they were given health questionnaires during their third and twelfth months into the treatment. The questionnaires specifically included questions regarding a patient’s emotions. These questionnaires helped assess any improvement on the patient’s depression scores. It was found out that there was great improvement in the depression score of 50% of those in the third group who received acupuncture treatment.

Electroacupuncture for depression

Electroacupuncture, a type of acupuncture that makes use of needles together with mild electric current, was used in a study issued via the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. This study ruled out that this particular acupuncture method is as effective as the prescription drug fluoxetine when it comes to treating patients with depression.

Chinese medicine and depression

Acupuncture basically comes from Traditional Chinese Medicine. As a system of treatment, Chinese medicine views depression not as an ailment or illness but as a situation whose symptoms have to be treated uniquely. It dictates the use of different techniques in treating depression symptoms – Chinese herbs, tui-na massage and acupuncture amongst others.

How does acupuncture work for depression?

It works using the traditional Chinese medicine system. This type of acupuncture targets the person’s life force or natural energy (known in Chinese medicine as Qi). With the needles placed on key areas for acupuncture, the patient’s body is stimulated to heal naturally. This is because of the fact that the procedure has improved the patient’s Qi, thus helping treat depression accordingly.

While more studies will still be needed in order to finally conclude that acupuncture can indeed help with depression symptoms, it can now be considered as one of the many approaches helpful in alleviating the signs that come with the condition. To know more about how acupuncture helps with depression and all other conditions, feel free to contact us.

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