The practice of acupuncture for anxiety has been used in Chinese Medicine for over 5000 years, yet it is only recently that the benefits of acupuncture have started to become more widely accepted in Western Medicine. When thinking of the symptoms or problems that acupuncture tackles, one will often suggest back pain, headaches/migraines and even allergies. However, recent studies go a long way to substantiate their claims that acupuncture can actually help cure or control a number of other ailments including infertility, impotence, chronic fatigue, addictions and even anxiety.
So the question we pose today is a simple one; can acupuncture be used as a cure for anxiety or depression?
Acupuncture for Anxiety and Depression
Anyone who suffers with anxiety or depression will know how debilitating such a condition can be. We are not talking about someone who occasionally feels nervous about public speaking, we are talking about a condition that affects the sufferer on a daily basis and is thought to be a deep-rooted psychological issue.
Anyone suffering from this affliction is likely to have already sought a number of ways to combat the condition and many will have had little success, even after being prescribed drugs and attending multiple psychological assessments and counselling sessions. The trouble with drugs is that it is only masking the problem and the medicines often carry a number of unpleasant side effects. The psychological route is often no better and although it is potentially a more effective method of getting to the route of the problem, it is a slow and expensive way of fighting anxiety and depression.
One of the biggest benefits of acupuncture is that it is immediate. It has an impact straight away and can be long lasting. But does it work for anxiety?
Considering the length of time that acupuncture has been around it is surprising that there has been so little research in to this alternative treatment method… but that has changed recently.
Ancient Chinese Beliefs
Perhaps it is the Ancient Chinese beliefs around Qi and the energy flow in the body that has steered Western doctors away from acupuncture or perhaps it is a lack of understanding. The Far Eastern treatment is believed to target different energy points in the body and the insertion of tiny needles is used to remove blockages in the energy flow to restore balance through the body.
More contemporary practices will always start with an initial consultation to discuss the reasons why you want the acupuncture and what you are expecting to achieve as a result of it. The acupuncturist will then target these areas and restore the flow of Qi in the body to remedy the underlying problem.
Perhaps the reason for recent studies and the practice of acupuncture now being suggested by conventional doctors across America and the United Kingdom is the overwhelming number of testimonies given by people who have had the treatment. These studies have supported these testimonies in that the use of acupuncture for the majority of patients has had really positive outcomes and for a range of symptoms including anxiety and depression.
A number of these studies question the philosophy behind the practice of acupuncture for anxiety and depression but they do hold up the claims that it can not only help with the treatment of anxiety but it can also help treat the side effects of drugs given to sufferers of anxiety.
A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine stated that the use of acupuncture provided the same level of relief from depression as Prozac amongst patients who had 5 sessions of acupuncture per week for 6 weeks.
One of the major side effects of drugs given to sufferers of anxiety and depression is an effect on their sex life. Acupuncture can not only be used instead of these drugs but can also be used alongside them, with the acupuncture also being used to target relief from these sex based symptoms.
Some studies suggest that it is impossible to distinguish whether the use of acupuncture is simply a placebo and that many patients feel an instant boost just by attending a session, no matter where the needles are placed and how the Qi is distributed. Most patients would probably be okay with this as long as their symptoms are relieved.
One of the biggest advocates of acupuncture for anxiety would completely disagree with this placebo argument. Carol Morton L.Ac, L.C.S.W is a formed psychotherapist who now practices acupuncture to treat anxiety and depression and she simply states “I find acupuncture an effective way to address the whole person”. Anyone who switches from a psychological to an energy based approach and does so with such commitment clearly has absolute faith in its potential for successful treatment and we would urge anyone who is suffering from anxiety or depression to seek a local acupuncturist today.