Depression is a common mental health problem that affects people of all genders, ages, and backgrounds.
About two thirds of adults will at some time experience depression severe enough to interfere with their normal activities.
Depression causes symptoms such as low mood, loss of interest in enjoyable activities, anxiety, irritability low self-esteem, disturbed sleep or appetite, weight change, tiredness, lack of motivation, concentration or libido, physical pain, and suicidal thoughts.
Depression is likely to result from a combination of genetic, biochemical, environmental, and psychological factors.
It may be triggered by stressful events, such as bereavement, illness, relationship problems or financial difficulties.
Two recent systematic reviews, both drawing on Western and Chinese data, found that acupuncture was similar in effectiveness to anti-depressant medication.
Given that acupuncture appears to be at least as effective as existing conventional drugs, without their level of side effects, it should be considered as an alternative treatment.
In general, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. The resulting biochemical changes influence the body's homeostatic mechanisms, thus promoting physical and emotional wellbeing.
How can Acupuncture help?
How does it work?
Acupuncture can have a specific positive effect on depression by altering the brain's mood chemistry, increasing production of serotonin and endorphins. It may also benefit depression by acting through otherneurochemical pathways, including those involving dopamine , noradrenaline, cortisol and neuropeptide Y.
Stimulation of certain acupuncture points has been shown to affect areas of the brain that are known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promoting relaxation and deactivating the 'analytical' brain which is responsible for anxiety and worry.
Acupuncture can be safely combined with conventional medical treatments such as anti-depressants.