Try Acupuncture for Your Depression

By: Scott Meyers

In the continuing search for alternates to antidepressants those who suffer from depression are looking to acupuncture as one option. Acupuncture has its origins in Chinese medicines: it is the process by which a qualified therapist inserts thin needles into the skin at particular points with the intention of treating illnesses. This ancient art has been used for over three thousand years in China and many hundreds of years in other nearby Asian countries. It was carried to Europe by early physicians and by missionaries in the sixteen hundreds. But it was not until the 1970s before it had begun to be used and later accepted here.

One of the reasons that it is hard for Westerners to accept that acupuncture works is that the there is as much philosophy behind it as medical proof. The Chinese believe that the way to heal the body is to help it find a balance. They believe that if the body and the mind are not in balance that this is when illness can succeed. They include illnesses of the body and emotional illness like depression.

Studies have shown that acupuncture seems to work for dispelling depression or at least diminishing it. Some physicians will recommend it for their patients who suffer only mild to moderate depression, while others think that acupuncture works well for those who can trace their depressive episodes directly to stress. Still other health care providers will cautiously suggest its use but only if the patient continues on whatever medications they have been using.

So many people wonder how the acupuncturist knows where to put the tiny needles. The acupuncturist targets twelve main nerve pathways, called meridians. There are also eight lesser important pathways. Along these major and minor pathways are some two thousand of these pressure points that can be used depending on where the patient has pain or depression. All of these points are believed to channel energy, (called "chi" or "qi") between different parts of the body.

Some people in the medical community have a difficult time believing that sticking a bunch of needles into someone at places that seem unrelated to the medical issue could possibly do the patient any good. Ongoing studies are show that acupuncture does help. A recent study involving a small test group of around forty adult women individualized the acupuncture for each woman and continued for a period of two months. It began with the patient attending two times a week for the first month and then once a week for the second month. When the trial period was over, seventy percent of the patients had a minimum of fifty percent improvement in their symptoms of depression. This is considered at least as good, if not better, then the average results with therapy or perception pills.

There seems to still be much for Westerners to learn about the art of acupuncture but this should not discount its healing elements, especially with something as devastating as living with depression.

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