Acupuncture can also be helpful for people suffering from depression. As you might already know, depression has both mental and physical aspects to it—it makes us unable to concentrate, feel anxious and hopeless and other things, and then it can also affect our sleep, cause us to cry and have stomach problems and other physical symptoms.
Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, doesn’t regard depression as an illness as such, but rather looks to treat the different symptoms that each person might have. Studies have found that treating depression with acupuncture has a positive and holistic effect on patients with depression, especially when combined with psychotherapy and herbal remedies and treatments.
John Allen, a psychologist from the University of Arizona, and Rosa Schnyer, an acupuncturist, conducted the first pilot controlled study on treating the symptoms of depression with acupuncture. This was the first study of its kind in the Western world. In a double-blind randomized study, 34 depressed female patients who were found to meet the diagnostic criteria for depression through the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition” or DSM-IV, were divided into three different treatment groups for eight weeks.
The first group got acupuncture specifically designed for their symptoms of depression. The second group received acupuncture, but it was a general course not specifically linked to helping with depression. And the third group was put on a waiting list for acupuncture treatment, but didn’t actually receive any.
The study found that those in the group that received acupuncture that was tailored for depressive symptoms experienced a significant reduction of their symptoms, compared to the second group who got the general treatment. Specifically, over half of the subjects no longer met the DSM-IV criteria for depression once the study was over. These findings suggest pretty strongly that using just acupuncture by itself, as long as it was focused on the symptoms of depression, could be as effective as other ways to treat depression and helping reduce its accompanying symptoms.