Acupuncture For Anxiety, Depression and Stress
Chinese Medicine and Mental Health
Stress is a common complaint cited by acupuncture patients, with a variety of possible associated symptoms such as depression, anxiety feeling down or worried. Acupuncture patients will report varying degrees of anxiety, depression and stress and will seek some assistance from there acupuncturist in addition to their treating doctors. Some other conditions that are affected by stress include: back pain, chronic pain, depression, headache, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, menopausal symptoms, migraines, premenstrual syndrome and urinary incontinence (1).
The signs of stress can vary from one person to the next and may manifest physically as an illness, tiredness or lethargy, or as symptoms such as sore, tight muscles, dull skin, lank hair, or erratic sleep patterns. Mental stress can result in depression, mood swings, anger, frustration, confusion, paranoid behaviour, jealousy or withdrawal (1).
The effect of acupuncture, upon symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress was investigated as part of the Acupuncture Evidence Project. 6 conditions were identified in this project as showing the potentially positive effect of acupuncture with moderate to good evidence to support it.
Acupuncture For Anxiety, Stress and Depression: The Research
The effect of acupuncture, or otherwise upon mental health was investigated as part of the Acupuncture Evidence Project (2). 6 conditions were identified in this project as showing the potentially positive effect of acupuncture with moderate to good evidence to support it.
Acupuncture for Anxiety - Research
- A Narrative review found acupuncture to have potential use and an Integrative review found positive and statistically significant effects with moderate to high quality evidence. Overall there was a potentially positive effect reported (3,4).
Acupuncture for Pretreatment Anxiety - Research
- A systematic review found acupuncture to be effective in reducing anxiety (5).
Acupuncture for Depression (With Anti-Depressants) - Research
- Acupuncture was found to have “Evidence of Potential Positive Effect” for the effectiveness of acupuncture for depression when used as an adjunct to antidepressants (6,7).
Acupuncture for Insomnia - Research
- 2 systematic reviews reported a positive effect and further suggested acupuncture may be superior to medication. The evidence however was reported to be of low quality. A US Veteran affairs review reported a potentially positive effect (8, 9).
Acupuncture for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD - Research
- The US Veteran affairs review reported a potentially positive effect and a subsequent RCT released in 2015 reported that acupuncture plus usual care superior to usual care in PTSD severity, depression, pain and physical and mental functioning (10,11).
Acupuncture for Schizophrenia (With Anti-Psychotics) - Research
- In a update to a Cochrane review, acupuncture plus antipsychotic medication was found to be superior to antipsychotic medication alone, in terms of mental state and length of hospitalisation (moderate quality evidence) with fewer adverse effects (low quality evidence) (12). In another review Acupuncture was reported effective for schizophrenia, especially in improving sleep, mood and Quality of life scale. Acupuncture with antipsychotics was reported as having a potentially positive effect with moderate evidence (13).
A Important Note About Acupuncture for Anxiety and Depression
It is important to remember that acupuncture should be considered an adjunctive treatment to normal care of mental health disorders. Although the evidence shows a potentially positive effect with moderate evidence, it is important to also remember that this is in addition to usual care. At Coburg Chinese medicine we strongly discourage people ceasing medication or other treatment, without support and advice from their treating physicians.
Our Melbourne Acupuncture Clinic
When working with patients experiencing depression, anxiety or stress, we begin by looking at everything going on with you and your body. Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine look at the mind and body as a whole. At Coburg Chinese Medicine we will ask you questions about exactly how your depression, stress and/or anxiety affects you, then we will review other aspects of your health like your digestion, headaches, sleep quality, muscle pain and energy levels. At Coburg Chinese medicine we support an integrative and inclusive approach to mental health.
Based in Melbourne, the Coburg Clinic services people from Coburg and surrounding Northern suburbs such as Brunswick, Pascoe Vale, Preston, Fawkner, Thornbury, Northcote. If you wish to discuss how acupuncture can assist you call us on 03 9041 656
Call us on ☎ (03) 9041 6569 to arrange an appointment or book online below
1. NHS Choices, 2011. Stress Management [online]. Available: http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/stressmanagement/Pages/Stressmanagementhome.aspx
2. McDonald, John & Janz, Stephen. (2016). The Acupuncture Evidence Project : A Comparative Literature Review (Revised). Australian Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Association Ltd, Coorparoo
3. Bazzan AJ, Zabrecky G, Monti DA, Newberg AB. Current evidence regarding the management of mood and anxiety disorders using complementary and alternative medicine. Expert Rev Neurother. 2014 Apr;14(4):411- 23.
4. Goyata SL, Avelino CC, Santos SV, Souza Junior DI, Gurgel MD, Terra FS. Effects from acupuncture in treating anxiety: integrative review. Rev Bras Enferm. 2016 Jun;69(3):602-9.
5. Au DW, Tsang HW, Ling PP, Leung CH, Ip PK, Cheung WM. Effects of acupressure on anxiety: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Acupunct Med. 2015 Oct;33(5):353-9.
6. Chan YY, Lo WY, Yang SN, Chen YH, Lin JG. The benefit of combined acupuncture and antidepressant medication for depression: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Affect Disord. 2015 May 1;176:106-17. 89.
7. Spackman E, Richmond S, Sculpher M, Bland M, Brealey S, Gabe R, et al. Cost-effectiveness analysis of acupuncture, counselling and usual care in treating patients with depression: the results of the ACUDep trial. PLOS ONE. 2014;9(11):e113726.
8. Zhao K. Acupuncture for the treatment of insomnia. Int Rev Neurobiol. 2013;111:217-34.
9. Shergis JL, Ni X, Jackson ML, Zhang AL, Guo X, Li Y, et al. A systematic review of acupuncture for sleep quality in people with insomnia. Complement Ther Med. 2016 Jun;26:11-20.
10. Engel CC, Cordova EH, Benedek DM, Liu X, Gore KL, Goertz C, et al. Randomized effectiveness trial of a brief course of acupuncture for posttraumatic stress disorder. Med Care. 2014 Dec;52(12 Suppl 5):S57-64.
11. Hempel S, Taylor SL, Solloway MR, Miake-Lye IM, Beroes JM, Shanman R, et al. VA Evidence-based Synthesis Program Reports. Evidence Map of Acupuncture. Washington (DC): Department of Veterans Affairs; 2014.
12 Engel CC, Cordova EH, Benedek DM, Liu X, Gore KL, Goertz C, et al. Randomized effectiveness trial of a brief course of acupuncture for posttraumatic stress disorder. Med Care. 2014 Dec;52(12 Suppl 5):S57-64. 82.
13. Bosch P, van den Noort M, Staudte H, Lim S. Schizophrenia and Depression: A systematic Review of the Effectiveness and the Working Mechanisms Behind Acupuncture. Explore (NY). 2015 Jul-Aug;11(4):281-91