• Alexis Hileman L.Ac.

Acupuncture Can Help with Anxiety and Depression

Acupuncture for stress and depression? Yes.

There are an estimated 18 million Americans that suffer from depression or depression-related symptoms. Many people are now seeking alternative options to visiting their doctor and facing being prescribed to an anti-depressant medication. As an acupuncturist, it's important to stay up to date on studies and information surrounding these topics so my patients have non-prescription options for treating depression and anxiety.

Acupuncture calms anxiety


Anxiety is a normal reaction to stressful situations. In some cases, however, worry becomes excessive or chronic and can cause people that suffer from it to dread everyday, normal situations. They have constant feelings of extreme apprehension and worry.


Stress generally refers to two things: the psychological perception of pressure and the body's response to it. These involve multiple systems, from metabolism to muscles to memory. Some stress is necessary for all living things as they encounter and respond to challenges in their existence. Some stress, however, is unnecessary though and can cause deeper harm and disrupt daily function.

There are some studies out there, showing how acupuncture can treat anxiety, stress and depression. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) states that “evidence for the use of acupuncture . . . to treat anxiety disorders is becoming stronger.”  Reuters health also reported on a study from the University of York in the UK that had involved 755 people with depression of varying degrees. Seventy percent of the patients used anti-depressants throughout the study. The study concluded that both acupuncture and counseling (or both) had a strongly positive effect on depression, lowering the depression scale from an average of 16 out of 27 at the start of the study, to 9 for acupuncture and 11 for counseling at its conclusion. The benefits lasted 3 months after treatment had concluded.

~ https://www.psychologytoday.com

Acupuncture for Anxiety

There several other studies today that show that acupuncture outperforms drugs for anxiety. Xuzhou Guangci Hospital psychiatric department researchers (in China) conducted a clinical trial comparing acupuncture and moxibustion for the treatment of anxiety disorders with gamma oryzanol plus alprazolam (a benzodiazepine medication). After 15 days of treatment the acupuncture group in this study had a 93% effective rate of treatment while the group using drugs to treat anxiety performed only at 75%. This type of data is becoming more prevalent as case studies in safer, alternative treatment paths are continuing to rise. You can read more about the above study at the Healthcare Medicine Institute.

Acupuncture Can Help with Anxiety and Depression
Stress & Anxiety can often look like this for many people.

According to Chinese Medicine...

According to Chinese Medicine, anxiety and depression in women is the result of “complex interactions between diverse factors. Many of these factors are not yet fully understood. Chinese Medicine explains that depression is twice as common in women in part, by the relationship between Liver depression and the menstrual cycle. Qi Deficiency (Lung and/or Kidney), Blood Deficiency (usually Liver and Spleen), Blood Stagnation (Liver), Cold Invasion causing Qi and Blood Stagnation, as well as Jing and Yuan Qi Deficiency are all part of the constellation of findings associated with depression, and all affect the Shen or Mind.

In practice, Chinese Medicine treatment of depression, stress or anxiety relies upon the diagnosis of each individual patient and on formulating use of a distinct group of acupoints unique to each individual, along with a strategy that may also include other recommendations, including, but not limited to, exercise, herbal therapy and lifestyle modifications.

~ US National Library of Medicine.

Acupuncture Can Help with Anxiety and Depression
Acupunture for anxiety and stress

Getting Treated with Acupuncture

If you think that you are interested in treating panic symptoms, depression or anxiety through acupuncture, then your first step will involve some consultations. You should consult your doctor for a medical opinion and you'll also need to consult with someone who specializes in Chinese medicine for personal action plan. It is also important that you receive these services from a licensed acupuncturist.

The use of acupuncture to treat medical and mental health conditions continues to be more prevalent, making it more readily available and affordable. Since it has been evaluated for effectiveness, some insurance policies may cover some of your acupuncture treatments. You should consult your plan's inclusions to be sure, as it may be an out-of-pocket expense.


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