Does acupuncture for depression work? In short, yes, it can be a very effective therapy for a range of mental health conditions.
Research studies, clinical experiences, and patient testimonials on acupuncture and depression show that it is an effective treatment for mild to moderate illness. In fact, it’s been shown to be just as effective as anti-depressant medications, but with fewer side effects.
The jury is still out on whether or not acupuncture is an effective treatment for major depression. Some studies indicate that it is, but larger studies all around are needed. Hopefully future studies will explore this more fully.
In clinical studies depression acupuncture therapy has proven to be just as effective as anti-depressants in treating the mild to moderate form of the disease.
My own experience is that patients are often able to reduce or eliminate their anti-depressant medications (under the supervision of their psychiatrist). Many thousands of people find that anti-depressants don’t work for them or that side effects prevent them from taking the medication. For these patients acupuncture is an exciting, life-altering alternative.
So, how does it work? Well, we don’t know for sure, but scientific research has found that acupuncture increases a number of central nervous system hormones (ACTH, beta-endorphins, serotonin, and noradrenaline) and urinary levels of MHPG-sulfate, an adrenergic metabolite inversely related to the severity of illness in schizophrenics.
We also know that acupuncture treatment leads to a relative increase of cardiovagal modulation of heart rate and facilitates the physiological regulatory ANS function in response to alterations of external or internal environment which may contribute to its effectiveness in patients with anxiety and depression.