East meets West: How Acupuncture Can Ease Depression
Although everyone occasionally experiences low mood, these feelings usually pass after a few days. When a person has clinical depression, these problems can become chronic or recurrent, interfering with daily life. Depression causes symptoms such as sadness, loss of interest in enjoyable activities, anxiety, irritability, low self-esteem, disturbed sleep or appetite, weight change, tiredness, lack of motivation, concentration or libido, physical pain, and suicidal thoughts.
Western medicine typically treats depression with drugs or counseling. A British study has shown, however, that when acupuncture is used in conjunction with either drugs or counseling, patients feel better, faster.
The study found that people who had acupuncture treatments in addition to anti-depressant prescriptions improved more after three months than those who simply took drugs.
The acupuncture patients also did as well as those who had counseling alongside their normal treatment. These findings are encouraging as many patients with depression are interested in alternatives to drugs, which don’t even work in up to 60% of cases.
Researcher Dr. Hugh MacPherson, who is trained in acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, said: ‘We have provided evidence that acupuncture versus usual care and counseling versus usual care are both associated with a significant reduction in symptoms of depression in the short to medium term, and are not associated with serious adverse events.
Writing in the journal PLoS Medicine, he added that it is still not clear if acupuncture will help people with mild depression.
It is thought acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins and other ‘feel- good’ molecules. As acupuncture is a holistic treatment geared toward treating the body as a whole, it is certainly worth the attempt to treat mild depression.
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