Acupuncture, a procedure that originated thousands of years ago in China, is becoming an increasingly common choice for treating anxiety and depression. During an acupuncture procedure, extremely thin needles are placed in strategic places on your body. Traditional Chinese medicine states that acupuncture works by balancing your body's chi (life force) that flows through certain pathways (meridians). The view held by Western medicine is that acupuncture boosts the body's natural painkillers, releases neurotransmitters, and increases blood flow by stimulating nerves, muscles, and other tissues.
A 2010 review of clinical research on acupuncture, anxiety and depression concluded that the current data available is largely preliminary, and there is not yet a clear answer to whether acupuncture is an effective treatment for these disorders. However, there are some indications that acupuncture might help treat both anxiety and depression.
Acupuncture and Depression
A 1998 study funded by the National Institute of Health's Office of Alternative Medicine found that severely depressed women who underwent acupuncture treatment targeting certain "depression points" had a 43% reduction in depression symptoms, compared with a 22% reduction in those who underwent acupuncture treatment that did not target certain points.
Acupuncture and Anxiety
More recently, in 2007, a pilot study showed that acupuncture was about as effective as cognitive-behavioral therapy (the gold-standard of anxiety treatments) among those suffering from PTSD. And a review of previous studies, published in 2009, found that acupuncture may help to reduce tension headaches.
Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety in Women
Cognitive Therapy for Depression