Acupuncture treats depression by correcting the physical imbalances at the root of the condition. Chinese medicine believes that depression, although recognized in the West as a mental or emotional problem, is actually a physical problem that simply manifests emotionally. The root of most depression, again from a Chinese medicine perspective, is blocked energy, what we call blocked Qi or Qi stagnation. When the natural movement of energy does not flow smoothly, it triggers one or more of the classic symptoms of depression.
You may have trouble falling asleep even when you're tired. Or you may fall asleep but can't stay asleep, waking at night unable to fall back to sleep for hours. Or you may want to sleep all the time, at night, during the day, feeling like you just can't get enough sleep. You may have trouble with eating, either having no appetite or wanting to eat all the time. You might have strong cravings for sweets, salty foods, high carbohydrate or rich foods. You may feel so tired physically and mentally that you don't even want to move or think. You will most likely lose interest and motivation for doing anything.
Additional symptoms of depression may include having repeating thoughts that won't go away, feeling extreme emotions (of sadness, irritability, anger), or a complete lack of emotions (feeling emotionally numb). You may experience a profound sadness, losing hope of ever feeling better. Sometimes physical pain accompanies depression, like headaches or neck aches. When you're depressed the brain does not function correctly, leading to foggy thinking, trouble remembering and poor concentration. You may be overly sensitive to your environment and to people around you. Bright lights might bother you, and normal sounds, voices and music may become intolerable.
How does energy get blocked in the first place, triggering depression? Qi gets blocked by a number of factors, including stress, trauma, chronic pain, and poor diet. Acupuncture resolves depression so effectively because it gets the stagnant Qi to move again in the body. And unlike most medications, acupuncture's effects have long lasting results. In other words, acupuncture gets your qi moving and at the same time strengthens your body to keep the qi moving on it's own. Let's face it, you were not born depressed. Your body was able to move it's qi quite well in the past. Acupuncture trains your body to do it's job again, returning you to health.
In addition to moving the qi, acupuncture corrects the other symptoms that manifest along with depression. It improves sleep by regulating your day/night cycle, calming your mind to reduce negative thoughts, and reducing anxiety that often accompanies depression, especially at night. Acupuncture increases your mental alertness and concentration by stimulating brain activity, and boosts your physical energy by strengthening your Spleen function. It regulates your digestive function to either increase your appetite if you've lost it or reduce your cravings if your depression has triggered binge eating.
Acupuncture also increases your natural tolerance to environmental stimuli so your surroundings and people around you no longer bother you. As the Qi starts flowing again through your body you will regain your motivation, feel hopeful again and start enjoying interactions with people around you.
The results are generally impressive. The vast majority of people who suffer from either mild or moderate depression, once treated with acupuncture, will have a full recovery. People suffering from major depression, accompanied with suicidal thoughts, can receive acupuncture, but only in conjunction with proper care from a psychiatrist.
So many people think they are stuck with their depression and just need to manage it as best they can. But there's a better solution, a drug-free solution in many cases, and that's acupuncture.