How Acupuncture Can Treat Your Depression

How Acupuncture Can Treat Your Depression

Acupuncture is fairly well known as a treatment for musculoskeletal pain and chronic issues like headaches. But did you know acupuncture can be used to treat depression, too?

Recent research shows acupuncture can be a good choice for many patients with depression, including depression symptoms that haven't responded well to more traditional treatments. 

At Jersey Integrative Health and Wellness, our team offers acupuncture as part of our holistic, whole-patient approach to care for physical and emotional health issues. If you suffer from depression, here’s how acupuncture treatment could help you.

Acupuncture: The basics

Acupuncture is widely used in Eastern medicine, and more recently, it’s become a staple of Western medicine, as well. 

Dating back more than 2,000 years, acupuncture uses a series of very thin needles to disrupt the body’s energy flow, or Qi (pronounced chee). In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), practitioners hold that these energy pathways influence everything from our energy levels to our appetite to our aches, pains, and illnesses. 

While researchers aren’t sure exactly how acupuncture works, they do know that for some patients, acupuncture can be very beneficial — and that includes many patients suffering from depression.

Acupuncture and depression

Researchers believe that acupuncture treatments work in part by releasing special “feel good” chemicals called endorphins. These chemicals bind with opiate receptors in your brain, increasing feelings of pleasure and well-being.

At the same time, acupuncture may help stimulate the release of serotonin, one of the neurotransmitters directly involved in depression and mood. Higher levels of serotonin are associated with elevated moods, while lower levels are directly linked to symptoms of depression.

Both endorphins and serotonin are routinely released during healing, and it may be that the acupuncture needles cause a type of “controlled injury” that spurs natural healing responses. Combined, the release of these two important chemicals — endorphins and serotonin — may help decrease depression symptoms, acting in a way similar to depression medications. 

What to expect during treatment

Before your appointment, have a light snack and avoid alcohol and caffeine. Wear loose, comfortable clothing.

Acupuncture treatments are performed while you’re in a reclining position. The insertion points for the super-thin acupuncture needles are determined ahead of time, based on your symptoms and goals.

Once you’re lying down, the provider inserts each needle, gently manipulating the needles from time to time. Most acupuncture treatments take under an hour. 

Depending on your needs, acupuncture can be used alone or in combination with medication or therapy to improve your symptoms and your quality of life. Many patients benefit from a series of twice-weekly treatments for about five to six weeks or more, then weekly as needed. 

Learn more

Millions of Americans suffer from depression, a chronic medical problem that can be difficult to treat, even with medication and therapy. Acupuncture offers an alternative route that could be the solution you’re looking for. 

To learn more about acupuncture treatments at our practices in Boonton, Pompton Plains, and Jersey City, New Jersey, call Jersey Integrative Health and Wellness or book an appointment online today.

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