Does acupuncture ease depression? In fact, acupuncture has a significant effect on the easing of depression and anxiety. The initial effects are much more rapid than either antidepressants or psychotherapy, though profound and lasting effects take more time to achieve. Having said that, I do not generally recommend using acupuncture alone for dealing with depression, I think it works best when combined with conventional treatment or, in some cases, when combined with Taichi or Chinese Yoga or indeed Indian Yoga. The latter consists of some extremely simple exercises that I have practiced for many years, and I have seen cases when the combination of these exercises with acupuncture, have enabled patients with serious psychological disturbances to fully recover, where conventional treatment had failed.
However, for anxiety acupuncture generally provides a very effective stand-alone treatment and unlike benzodiazepines, which doctors are reluctant to prescribe, it is not addictive. In a recent study conducted by Stanford University in the United States, acupuncture was given to small children to reduce or eliminate the use of benzodiazepines and their associated side-effects and withdrawal symptoms.
Around 80% of patients having acupuncture, for any condition, report feeling deeply relaxed during treatment, which is in itself therapeutic for some patients, many of whom may have lived with anxiety and/or depression their entire lives. I recently treated a patient who said after the treatment that she felt happy, and that she could not remember the last time she had felt happy.
This documentary, filmed by Channel 4 in the 1990’s, provides a comprehensive introduction to the study of Chinese Yoga, referred to above. The old man that appears about 6 minutes into the video is my teacher’s teacher, Yu Yong Nian. Professor Yu is in his mid-nineties now, and still in excellent health.