Acupuncture for Anxiety and Depression

Lotus representing acupuncture, massage, and other complimentary modalities.

An Ancient Tradition Adapted to Modern Times

At our Edmonton Clinic, acupuncture is adapted to modern ways of thinking to treat anxiety and depression. Acupuncture works in conjunction with counselling and/or medications prescribed by your doctor. If you are feeling sad, worried, empty, lonely, aimless, restless, having difficulty concentrating – acupuncture can help shift the balance along with other therapies to support your well-being.

Acupuncture has a long history of helping to manage and overcome anxiety and depression. Oriental Medical philosophy acknowledges the fundamental connection between mental health and physical symptoms. Emotional issues that may manifest as digestive trouble, headaches, irritability, or insomnia are addressed holistically as part of a particular mind-body pattern. We develop an acupuncture treatment plan to treat the patient’s pattern as a whole, not just the main outward symptoms.

What the Scientific Research Says About Acupuncture and Anxiety/Depression

From a scientific perspective, one possible mechanism of how acupuncture works for anxiety and depression has been revealed by MRI studies of the brain. Chronic stress can cause high activity in certain midbrain structures called the “amygdalae”. Imaging studies have determined that two of the most commonly used acupuncture points on the hand and leg can deactivate the amygdalae (these brain areas are also very deactivated if you are a Buddhist monk with thousands of hours of meditation practice!). 

Read Our Blog on the Amygdala Connection with Stress/Anxiety

Acupuncture is a promising option for people seeking alternatives to anti-anxiety/anti-depressant medications. Studies have shown that acupuncture can work at least as effectively as medications for alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression, and without any harmful side effects.

Research studies have shown that:

Acupuncture Facilitates Counselling

Many of our patients who are getting counselling for anxiety and depression find that acupuncture treatments improve their counselling sessions. One reason for this effect is that acupuncture allows a person to feel more embodied or more receptive to sensory/bodily feedback.

For instance, the strong acupuncture relaxation response accompanied with a reduction in stress levels can make people better perceive the comings and goings of neck tension, chest or gut discomfort, or other signs of anxiety. This dynamic state of being more relaxed for days following acupuncture sessions can help one be more open to the mind-body connection. It sets the stage for both top-down counselling approaches (CBT or cognitive behavioural therapy) or bottom-up counselling approaches (somatic therapy).

Restore Your Emotional Health

Our holistic health approach and customized treatment plans can help manage many interrelated emotional ailments such as stress, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, fatigue, difficulty sleeping and much more.

Our practitioners are skilled at interpreting the body language of emotional disturbances and tailoring treatments to create lasting calm and symptom relief. By doing so, our patients gain better ability to build other strategies – good nutrition, movement/exercise, social connections, counselling – into their lives to sustain long-term emotional well-being.

How Many Sessions Do I Need

The number of acupuncture sessions needed to see improvement and lasting calm varies with the individual. Acupuncture works cumulatively, that is, each session builds on the previous one. Generally speaking, a minimum of three treatments is needed in order to create a positive momentum. Continued treatments make sense as long as there are positive changes occurring, whether it be emotional stability, improved mood, better sleep and energy or other dimensions unique to each person.

FAQs about Acupuncture