Acupuncture for Stress
Most people who've undergone acupuncture know how relaxing it can be. Acupuncturists believe that feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress are caused by energy that is stuck, constrained, or inhibited in the chest. Acupuncturists call this "Liver Qi Stagnation". This does not suggest any kind of liver disease. It means that we have reacted to stress or loss by tightening in the chest. This is considered by acupuncturists to be a physical condition, treatable with acupuncture, exercise, massage, and other physical means. Depression or a loss of the feeling of well being is usually the first sign of Liver Qi Stagnation.
Acupuncture Treatment for Stress and Depression
Acupuncture promotes the flow of energy and fluids. Acupuncturist can relieve the sense of stress, or depression by encouraging the flow of qi in the chest and abdomen. Certain acupuncture points are commonly used to relieve depression. Some of the most popular are:
Acupuncture Points for Depression and Stress
Acupuncture point Shen Men • Heart 7 Spirit Gate. Shu Stream Point on the Heart Channel. Yuan Source Point on the Heart Channel.
Location: On the transverse wrist crease, in the small depression between the pisiform and ulna bones.
Acupuncture point Bai Hui • Governing Vessel 20 Hundred Meetings. Meeting Point on the Governing Vessel with the six yang channels.
Location: On the vertex of the scalp
Acupuncture for Anxiety and Stress
Acupuncture practitioners believe that qi (energy) has a warm nature. When this energy is trapped in the chest, it eventually heats up causing a condition known as Heat in the Heart. Western doctors diagnose this as anxiety, or panic attacks. Anxiety is relieved by using certain acupuncture points to clear heat from the heart. Some of these acupuncture points are:
Acupuncture Points to Relieve Anxiety and Stress
Acupuncture point Nei Guan • Pericardium 6 Inner Pass. Luo Connecting Point on the Pericardium Channel to TE4.
Location: On the anterior forearm, 2 cun superior to the wrist crease.
Acupuncture point Shan Zhong • Conception Vessel 17 Chest Center. Front Mu of the Pericardium
Location: On the sternal midline, level with the fourth intercostal space, between the nipples.
ACUPUNCTURE RESEARCH ON DEPRESSION, ANXIETY, AND STRESS
Studies have suggested that treating depression with acupuncture has a positive effect on depressed patients, particularly when used in combination with psychotherapy and herbal treatments.
Psychologist John Allen, from the University of Arizona in Tucson, and Acupuncturist Rosa Schnyer, conducted the very first pilot controlled study on treating depression symptoms with acupuncture in the West. In a double blind randomized study, 34 depressed female patients who met the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria were assigned to one of three treatment groups for eight weeks.
The first group received acupuncture treatment tailored to their symptoms. The second group received a general acupuncture treatment not specific to depression, and the third group was placed on a waiting list for acupuncture treatment, but received no treatment.
The study found that those in the tailored acupuncture treatment experienced a significant reduction in symptoms, compared to those in the non-specific treatment. Moreover, after the study, over half of the participants no longer met the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for depression .
The findings suggest that using acupuncture could be as effective as other types of treatments for relieving depression symptoms such as psychotherapy and drugs. While these results are promising and the United Nations World Health Organization has approved acupuncture as a treatment for depression, further clinical trials with larger samples are deemed necessary to endorse this new hope for relief.
Allen, J. J. B. (2000). Depression and acupuncture: a controlled clinical trial. Psychiatric Times Online, 22, 3.
Tian, C. H. (2002). Acupuncture treatment for depression. New England Journal of Traditional Medicine, 1, 4-7.