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Can Acupuncture Help Depression?

Can Acupuncture Help Depression?


Acupuncture can help depression.

More Info: Numerous studies reveal that acupuncture can help to relieve depression having an influence over serotonin and dopamine, chemicals of the brain, which may influence mood.

Answer Guide

In this guide you will discover:

Acupuncture Helps Pregnancy Depression

Meta Analysis Confirms Acupuncture Works for Depression

Can Acupuncture Help Stress?

Can Acupuncture Help Anxiety?

Acupuncture Helps Pregnancy Depression

A study conducted by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine concluded that acupuncture is effective in reducing the symptoms of depression during pregnancy.  The study enlisted 150 women who were between 12-30 weeks along in their pregnancies suffering depression as defined by Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders criteria.  The women were subdivided into three groups, one group receiving acupuncture specific for depression over an eight-week period.  The results concluded that 63% of the women receiving depression specific acupuncture demonstrated a reduction in symptoms. [R. Manber, 115]

Meta-Analysis Confirms Acupuncture Works for Depression

Researchers from the Department of Pharmacology and Biostatistics, Institute of Medical Sciences conducted a meta-analysis on previous studies assessing the beneficial effects of acupuncture used for depression.  They compiled and analyzed results from 477 different subjects across eight randomized controlled trials and based on the data concluded that acupuncture was an effective treatment that could significantly reduce the severity of disease in the patients with depression. [Wang, 111]


Emerging research has identified low vitamin D levels to be associated with depression.

Can Acupuncture Help Stress?

According to the National Cancer Institute, acupuncture may cause physical responses in the brain, nerve cells, and pituitary gland.  The body’s subsequent responses are to release proteins, hormones, and brain chemicals such as endorphins.  Endorphins work to reduce perception of pain in the opiate receptors of the brain.  It is believed that these body responses to acupuncture can then help to treat a variety of conditions such as stress.

Can Acupuncture Help Anxiety?

Acupuncture helps anxiety by offering a mental and physical release through the manipulation of various pressure points throughout the body. In acupuncture, tiny needles are inserted in the skin at predetermined areas to stimulate the nervous system. This stimulation actually relaxes the body and has a calming effect on the mind. Apart from anxiety, acupuncture can also be used to treat other common mental problems, such as stress and depression. Physical issues that are symptoms, or causes, of anxiety such as insomnia and muscle tightness may also be helped by acupuncture.


Glossary of Terms

Dopamine: a chemical found in the brain that acts as a neurotransmitter and is an intermediate compound in the synthesis of noradrenaline. Formula: (HO)2C6(CH2)2NH2
Collins English Dictionary

Meta-analysis: a quantitative statistical analysis of several separate but similar experiments or studies in order to test the pooled data for statistical significance.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Randomized controlled trial: A study in which the participants are assigned by chance to separate groups that compare different treatments; neither the researchers nor the participants can choose which group. Using chance to assign people to groups means that the groups will be similar and that the treatments they receive can be compared objectively. At the time of the trial, it is not known which treatment is best. It is the patient’s choice to be in a randomized trial.

National Cancer Institute

Serotonin: Serotonin or 5-hydroxytryptamine is a monoamine neurotransmitter. Biochemically derived from tryptophan, serotonin is primarily found in the gastrointestinal tract, platelets, and in the central nervous system of animals and humans.

Expert Opinion

The western antidepressant drugs such as Effexor, Paxil, Elavil, Zoflot, Prozac, Celexa, Lexapro, Wellbutrin, Trazodone can be beneficial by focusing on maintaining the serotonin levels in the brain.  But, in addition to the side effects, the patients need to take them all the time.  Acupuncture, combined with Chinese herbs, can be a very effective alternative to treat depression, anxiety, stress-induced fatigue and emotions swings resulting in long-term benefits.  ”   Dr. Daniel Lee       Acupuncture for Depression, Anxiety, Stress, and Fatigue


R, Manber. ” Acupuncture for depression during pregnancy: a randomized controlled trial.” Obstetrics and Gynecology 115.3 (2001): 511-520. Print.

Wang, H. “Is acupuncture beneficial in depression: a meta-analysis of 8 randomized controlled trials?.” Journal of Affective Disorders 111.1 (2008): 2-3. Print.

“Acupuncture Helps Relieve Depression, Expert Says – .” – Breaking News | Latest News | Current News. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 July 2011. <>.

“Acupuncture lessens depression symptoms during pregnancy, Stanford study shows- Office of Communications & Public Affairs – Stanford University School of Medicine.” Stanford University School of Medicine. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 July 2011.

“Acupuncture Calms Mom’s Stress, Anxiety.” WebMD – Better information. Better health.. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 July 2011. <>.

“Anxiety.” University of Maryland Medical Center | Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 July 2011. <>.

“Acupuncture (PDQ®) – National Cancer Institute.” Comprehensive Cancer Information – National Cancer Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 July 2011.


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