STRESS, ANXIETY & DEPRESSION
Acupuncture for Stress, Anxiety & Depression
Not only can acupuncture and Oriental medicine alleviate symptoms associated with mental health issues, it can treat the root cause of the problem by helping to rebalance the body’s internal environment.
Oriental Medicine does not recognize any mental disorder as one particular syndrome. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of techniques such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, bodywork, lifestyle/dietary recommendations and energetic exercises to restore imbalances found in the body. Therefore, if 100 patients are treated with Oriental medicine for anxiety, each of these 100 people will receive a unique, customized treatment with different acupuncture points, different herbs and different lifestyle and diet recommendations.
Acupuncture for Stress and Anxiety
Our bodies help us react to stressful events by activating the sympathetic nervous system, which facilitates what is called the “fight or flight” response. Our heart rate increases, our pupils dilate, and our digestion temporarily shuts down, directing blood to our extremities, so that if need be, we can either fight what is threatening us, or turn and run if the threat is too formidable.
With long-term stress, we find ourselves in a constant state of “fight or flight”, or stress. Over time, the constant state of stress takes its toll. Cortisol, the body’s stress hormone elevates, blood pressure increases, and our immune function is suppressed. Over time, these symptoms become worse and can develop into anxiety, depression, fatigue, digestive problems, and tension headaches.
From a Western viewpoint, acupuncture works to alleviate stress by releasing natural pain-killing chemicals in the brain, called endorphins. In addition, acupuncture improves circulation of blood throughout the body, which oxygenates the tissues and cycles out cortisol and other waste chemicals. The calming nature of acupuncture also decreases heart rate, lowers blood pressure and relaxes the muscles.
Study of Acupuncture for Depression
Since the early seventies, studies around the globe have suggested that treating mental health disorders with acupuncture has a positive and holistic effect on depressed patients, particularly when used in combination with psychotherapy and herbal treatments.
Psychologist John Allen, from the University of Arizona in Tucson, and Acupuncturist Rosa Schnyer, conducted the very first pilot controlled study on treating depression symptoms with acupuncture in the Western scientific world. In a double blind randomized study, 34 depressed female patients who met the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria were assigned to one of three treatment groups for eight weeks.
The first group received acupuncture treatment specifically tailored to their depression symptoms. The second group received a general acupuncture treatment not specific to depression, and the third group was placed on a waiting list for acupuncture treatment, but received no treatment. The study found that those in the tailored acupuncture treatment experienced a significant reduction in symptoms, compared to those in the non-specific treatment. Moreover, over 50% of the participants no longer met the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for depression after the study.
The study findings suggest that using acupuncture alone could be as effective as other types of treatments for relieving depression symptoms typically used in Western medicine, such as psychotherapy and drugs.