Acupuncture For Depression Treatment

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Acupuncture For Depression Treatment

Heard somewhere that using acupuncture for depression treatment can be rather effective?

Indeed, in a previous article, we have discussed how research on acupuncture and depression has provided evidences for the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating depression.

In this article, we focus on how acupuncture is actually being used in treating depression and what to expect of the acupuncture sessions.


Treating depression using acupuncture

There is a large variety of treatment methods, approaches, techniques, styles and theoretical frameworks when it comes to acupuncture. Differences in forms of acupuncture are often cultural – for example, the system of acupuncture practiced in Japan is different from that in China. [1]

Also, while most acupuncturists practice a more traditional form based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), others have adopted more modern styles. [1]

If your acupuncturist’s training is based mainly in TCM, here’s what you can expect.

Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine believe that depression, or rather “Yu Zhen” (郁证), is caused by excessiveness in emotions (e.g. anger, worry, sadness). This excessiveness then brings about a stagnation of Qi in the body, and subsequently different patterns of bodily disharmony, known as syndromes (证), in different individuals. [2]

Since blockage or imbalance in the flow of Qi is believed to be the cause of illnesses, including depression or “Yu Zhen”, the aim of acupuncture for depression treatment is to remove the blockage, correct imbalance in the flow of Qi and restore health. Acupuncture points (or acupoints) are chosen based on the syndrome(s) and symptom(s) presented by the patient. [1, 3, 4]

The following are some common syndromes [5] in “Yu Zhen”:

(1) Stagnation of the “Liver” Qi (肝气郁结), manifested as depressed moods, feelings of congestion in the chest, pain in the ribs, tendency to sigh, loss of appetite, abnormal stools (e.g. constipation / diarrhea) etc.

(2) Accumulation of heat arising from “Liver” Qi stagnation (肝郁化火), manifested as irritation, literal taste of bitterness and dryness in the mouth, headaches, redness in the eyes, ringing sounds in the ears, acid reflux to the throat, rumbling sounds in the abdomen, constipation, etc.

(3) Stagnation of Qi and accumulation of “Phlegm” (i.e. invisible mucous-like pathological product) (痰气郁结), manifested as depressed moods, persistent feelings of blockage in the throat even though no physical blockage can be found, feelings of congestion in the chest and ribs area, etc

(4) Deficiency of Qi and “Blood” in the “Spleen” and “Heart” (心脾两虚), manifested as excessive worrying and suspicion, fearfulness, loss of appetite or indigestion, faintness, fatigue, heart palpitations, forgetfulness, insomnia, etc.

(5) Dystrophy or Confusion of the “Heart-Mind” (心神失养 or 心神惑乱), manifested as feelings of distraught, excessive suspicion, inappropriate emotions (e.g. crying or laughing at inappropriate times), easily agitated or tear easily, etc.

(6) Deficiency of the “Liver” and “Kidney” (肝肾亏虚), manifested as fainting spells, ringing sounds in the ear, dry eyes, heart palpitations, sensation of heat in the palms, soles and chest area, sweating when asleep but which cease when awake, dryness in the mouth and throat, etc. [1].

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