Acupuncture for Depression

Many people seek alternatives to anti-depressants for the treatment of depression. Western medicine relies on psychotherapy and anti-depressants to overcome depression, while traditional Chinese medicine views emotions as connected to the physical body, and vice versa. The aim of Chinese medicine is to balance the mind and body, as an interconnected system.

In 1998, researchers at the University of Arizona used acupuncture to treat a group of women suffering from depression.1 70% of the women saw a 50% reduction in their symptoms after just 12 sessions of acupuncture. The study concluded that acupuncture may positively alter the brain’s chemistry through the release of hormones and neurotransmitters. Acupuncture is also promising in the treatment of pregnant and menopausal women.2 Recent Chinese studies have concluded that acupuncture is as effective as anti-depressant medication, and produced no adverse side effects.3

Chinese medicine approaches depression as different to each individual, and targets specific patterns of symptoms. Symptoms of depression will most likely fall under two main categories: either deficiency (qi) or excess (yin).


Emotional symptoms, such as worry and anxiety may be present. Physical symptoms will include loss of appetite and weight, sleep difficulties, fatigue and concentration and memory issues.


Emotional symptoms can include irritability, anger, reactivity, and agitation. Physical symptoms include dizziness, fatigue and weight gain.

An individual may carry symptoms from both categories. Chinese medicine includes acupuncture and herbal remedies. Acupuncture practitioners take the time to discuss both you as an individual and your symptoms. Traditional medicine would prescribe the same treatment for different individuals with similar symptoms, but Chinese medicine treats people and their bodies as unique.

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