Jun 21 2016

Acupuncture, Depression, and Anxiety

anxietyEarlier this year we introduced a series of articles that examine the link between acupuncture and emotional health. This article focuses on acupuncture as a treatment for depression and anxiety.

It is common for people to say that someone suffering from depression “just needs to get over it.” This claim is false. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), “depression is a condition in which a person feels discouraged, sad, hopeless, unmotivated, or disinterested in life in general . . . [D]epression is a treatable illness that affects the way a person thinks, feels, behaves, and functions.”

There are three types of depression: major, persistent, and bipolar disorder (aka “manic-depression”). All of us are likely to experience depression in our lifetime. This might happen because of the death of a loved one; job loss; ending a relationship; or another major life event, such as medical problems. Major depression can decrease your energy level. It can also cause fatigue, loss of appetite, emotional eating, insomnia, or oversleeping.

People with bipolar disorder experience mood cycles that shift from severe highs (mania) to severe lows (depression). During a manic period, you might feel ecstatic and full of energy. On the flip side, depressive phases you might feel hopeless and lose interest in things that you normally enjoy. According to the Mayo Clinic, “mood shifts may occur only a few times a year or as often as several times a week. Although bipolar disorder is a disruptive, long-term condition, you can keep your moods in check by following a treatment plan.”

It is common for someone with depression to have and anxiety, and vice versa. The Mayo Clinic explains that “experiencing occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. However, people with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations.” There is no singular treatment for any healthcare issue, whether we’re talking about herbs, prescription drugs, or naturopathic modes of healing. Fortunately, acupuncture can be part of the healing process for both anxiety and depression.

The British Acupuncture Council explains:

The free flow and internal balance of energy (Qi) is . . . essential for good health. Any prolonged exposure to extremes or intense situations, be they physical, mental, emotional or spiritual, will cause the flow and balance to be affected. This disruption in balance then ripples through the whole system, causing symptoms which sometimes bear little apparent relation to the underlying causes. An acupuncturist’s skill lies in making sense of seemingly unconnected symptoms and understanding the unique nature of someone’s energies in such a way as to restore balance.

Acupuncture stimulates the nervous system and helps release energy throughout the body. Acupressure points can be targeted to help with digestive issues, mood swings, and pain reduction, as well as promote relaxation and calm anxiety. Acupuncture can also address the side effects of pharmaceutical treatments for depression and anxiety. Acupressure points on the ears can be used to help extend the benefits of acupuncture between treatment sessions with the use of small seeds that are attached with medical tape. Acupressure points of the wrist may be rubbed to help calm anxiety, and nausea. The point is called Pericardium 6. In Chinese Medicine, Pericardium 6 is the command point of the chest.  Hold three fingers right below your wrist and press down on the crease between the tendons.  You can also find wristbands that help decrease nausea that occurs during anxiety attacks.

Depression and anxiety are real. You don’t have to give up when someone tells you that you’re “imagining things.” Please give The Gathering Point Community Acupuncture a call. We can map out a course of treatment that is specific for you.

For more information about non-pharmaceutical ways to address anxiety and depression, check out this list from Better Help, an online therapy service that helps patients make healthy choices for emotional care.

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