More than 19 million adult Americans suffer from depression. Sadly, about half of those who turn to medication and psychotherapy do not find a solution in the treatment. Moreover, many individuals who do recover often relapse within less than a year. Because of statistics like these, more and more patients are turning to alternative therapies, like acupuncture, for better mental health.
Recent studies show acupuncture to be a valuable supplemental treatment for those suffering from mental health issues. In fact, many of the top clinics for Chinese Medicine are finding that acupuncture can work side by side with Western medicine and therapy for more effective, long-lasting results with less drug use.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an ancient healing technique that is believed to have originated in China more than 2,500 years ago. The theory behind acupuncture is that illness and pain are caused by energy imbalances. Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches that our bodies contain vital life energy, called Qi. Qi should flow through the body unhindered, but when it becomes blocked, pain and disease are the results.
The primary goal of acupuncture is to unblock the Qi and restore balance to the mind and body. During an acupuncture session, ultra-thin needles are inserted at specific acupuncture points on the body. The purpose of these needles is to unblock the flow of Qi, and each acupuncture point corresponds with the different organ systems of the body.
Acupuncture for Anxiety
Sadly, more than 40 million Americans have anxiety symptoms that are difficult to control and affect their daily lives. Usually, the go-to treatment for anxiety is a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Scientific evidence has shown that acupuncture can be a useful alternative treatment to pharmaceutical drugs. Not only does it help to keep you drug free, but it can also sometimes work faster than therapy. Some patients notice results after just one acupuncture treatment.
Acupuncture can reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety, like rapid breathing, heartbeat, insomnia, headaches, digestive disturbances, and even tightness in the chest. Patients have also reported that the treatments give them a feeling of peace and calmness. In some cases, patients have been able to cut back on their anti-anxiety medications under the care of an acupuncture physician and their regular doctor.
There has been increasing research that supports the use of acupuncture for anxiety. A study published in the Journal of Endocrinology showed that acupuncture impedes the body’s generation of stress hormones that lead to anxiety. Another study from the Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies found that students had better memory retention and less anxiety after a 20-minute acupuncture session. These studies show great promise for the effectiveness of relieving anxiety with acupuncture.
Acupuncture for Depression
Depression affects as much as 1-in-10 Americans. Unfortunately, the side effects of antidepressant medications can sometimes be as harmful as, or worse than, the illness itself. Even worse, these drugs can actually contribute to the very problems for which people are seeking help, such as insomnia, fatigue, weight gain, and low libido.
Thankfully, there has been a considerable amount of success in the use of acupuncture as a treatment for depression. Often, it can be combined with therapy and Western medicine for better results, with less pharmaceutical use. Many common symptoms of depression can be relieved by acupuncture, including physical pain and the feeling of disconnection from life.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has accepted the use of acupuncture as a safe treatment for depression, and studies suggest that acupuncture can result in long-term physical and emotional health benefits.
Acupuncture for Stress Management
Stress is known to be a contributing factor for many medical issues including: irritability, digestive problems, fatigue, sleep problems, and headaches. Stress usually affects your body at its weakest point. For example, if you have a weak stomach, stress can cause you to have problems like acid reflux and/or stomach ulcers.
Thankfully, acupuncture and Chinese medicine are very effective against the symptoms of stress. Many patients have reported that they feel about 50% better after three weeks and up to 90% better after six weeks. They also report feeling stronger and calmer after the treatments. Some patients even noticed a feeling of well-being and relaxation in just seconds after the needles are inserted.
Acupuncture for Other Mental Health Issues
Acupuncture can benefit patients suffering from other issues as well. Children and young adults suffering from ADHD can benefit significantly from acupuncture treatments. ADHD is often related to chronic stress, anxiety sleep disruption, or digestive problems. It is a symptom of a more significant issue within the body. Because acupuncture works to balance the entire body and mind, it produces impressive results without the need for pharmaceutical drugs.
Patients suffering from bipolar disorder can also benefit significantly from acupuncture treatments. Patients that suffer from bipolar disorder deal with depression and unpredictable manic episodes on a daily basis. Bipolar disorder affects as many as 1.9 million Americans. Acupuncture can be incorporated into a treatment plan that includes Chinese herbs, lifestyle changes, and Western medicine to give patients with this disease a much greater chance to have a functional and productive day to day life.
Mental illness and addiction frequently go hand in hand. Because of the nature of addiction, pharmaceutical drugs are not usually the best treatment option for these patients. Acupuncture offers a safer alternative. Studies printed in the American Journal of Public Health and the Archives of Internal Medicine have reported tremendous benefits for patients suffering from both cocaine and tobacco addictions. There have also been some promising results using acupuncture as a supportive therapy for sufferers of opioid dependence.
Ready to Give Acupuncture a Try?
Always go to a licensed acupuncturist. When you meet the acupuncturist, you should feel comfortable and at ease. Just like when you meet your therapist for the first time, you want to feel safe and be able to communicate with your acupuncturist effectively. If you aren’t comfortable during the treatments, it could have an effect on your outcome.