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Acupuncture for depression

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Acupuncture for depression

Acupuncture for depression is a safer and effective alternative to antidepressant clinically. Actually the efficacy of acupuncture for depression has convinced both doctors of Chinese medicine and western medicine.

Depression is one of global mental health problems, of which the main clinical manifestation is the significant continued depressed mood. In fact, acupuncture for depression has helped many people out of this mental disorder by just a single needle.

So what is the working mechanism of acupuncture for depression?

Theory of acupuncture for depression

Depression is called “Yu Zheng” in Chinese, which refers to syndrome of stagnation. The theory of acupuncture for depression thinks that depression is caused by the injury of emotions, which results in disorder of Qi-blood and dysfunction of liver, spleen and heart. In a long run it would form a vicious circle – stagnation causes the depression and depression worsens the stagnation.

In short, the disorder of functional activities of vital energy might lead to a variety of diseases, especially depression. In other words, the disorder of functioning of Qi is the overall pathogenesis of depression.

How does acupuncture for depression work?

Acupuncture can be used for a wide range of diseases and its efficacy has been tested for thousands of years. The same is true for acupuncture for depression and its accompanied or secondary physical diseases. However, acupuncture for depression also needs to take all other elements into consideration, such as patients’ symptoms, tongue and pulse and so on. To determine a successful prescription in acupuncture for depression, the basic Four Diagnostic Methods in Chinese medicine is a must.

The role of acupuncture for depression is to inspire the Qi, which dredge the channels and regulate the imbalance of Yin-Yang and Qi-blood. Once the body resumes working properly by acupuncture for depression, the body itself would correct the defects in our body by the restored self-healing ability.

Modern research has found that acupuncture may act on the heart, brain and other organs and acupuncture can regulate the endocrine as well.

General prescription of acupuncture for depression

As I mentioned just now that acupuncture for depression needs to consider all those overall conditions before to determine an effective prescription. In other words, remedies of acupuncture for depression are not always the same. Therefore, the general prescription of acupuncture for depression is for reference only.

Acupuncture for depression often chooses mainly those points that can refresh, enlighten and promote flow of Qi and blood. And then choose secondary points that can dredge liver channel, regulate heart and spleen, or benefit spleen and kidney and so on.

Main acupuncture depression points are

  • Baihui (GV 20);
  • Yintang (Ex-HN 3), alternatively with Shenting (GV 24) and Sishencong (EX-HN1);
  • Neiguan (P6);
  • Taichong (Liv3).

Secondary points of acupuncture for depression need to be chosen according to the results of syndrome differentiation.

  • If depression combines with symptoms such as chest tightness, irritation and distending pain in both sides and so on, add points of Kanshu (BL 18), Sanyinchiao (SP 6), and Danzhong (CV 17);
  • If depression combines with symptoms such as fear, palpitation, dizziness and forgetfulness and so on, it is a syndrome of deficiency of both heart and spleen. The points for acupuncture for depression need to add Hsinshu (BL 15), Sanyinchiao (SP 6), and Tsusanli (ST 36);
  • If depression combines with symptoms such as timidity, panic, chills, cold extremities, soreness and weakness of waist and knees and loss of libido and so on, it is a syndrome of Yang deficiency of both spleen and kidney. The points for acupuncture for depression need to add Shenshu (BL 23), Mingmen (GV 4) and Taixi (K 3).

Why choose acupuncture for depression?

As we already know that acupuncture for depression has a two-way positive regulatory role. Through stimulating nervous system and immune system, acupuncture can regulate the process of excitation and inhibition in the cerebral cortex, which achieve a balance among the various neurotransmitters in brain synapses. This is exactly how acupuncture for depression cures the depression.

In short, acupuncture for depression has a faster improvement and fewer side effects, compared with the primary application of antidepressants in western clinical practice. Combined with the increasing recognition in patients, acupuncture for depression will demonstrate its effectiveness and superiority more obviously. At present, acupuncture for depression has been proved to be one of the most effective methods for depression.

  Acupuncture depression points are the most important part in successful acupuncture depression treatments. As we know that there are many acupuncture depression treatment protocols, which we know that should be prescribed based on the diagnoses on individuals. Therefore, here comes the question: what are the suitable point options in acupuncture depression treatments?

The answer is to get to know well the theories of Traditional Chinese medicine and the functions of each acupuncture depression points first.

Acupuncture depression and Shen

What is Shen? Shen is an abstract concept in Chinese medicine. Traditional Chinese medicine thinks that brain is the house of mental activity. When brain, or Shen, is stimulated by one certain cause, the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral abnormalities will thus occur.

“Danxi Xinfa • 6 Yu” says:

“A person will never fall sick if his Qi-blood stays in good shape. On the contrary, diseases will come immediately if stagnation occurs inside the body.”

“Zheng Zhi Hui Bu” also says:

“There might be a variety of diseases by stagnation, which are caused by failure of Qi circulation. To cure stagnated diseases, the priority is to guide Qi downwards. To guide Qi downwards, the priority is to relieve the liver. The stagnation thus occurs when liver fails to function smoothly and Qi fails to flow smoothly. Therefore, the treatment protocol should be relieving the liver while regulating the flow of Qi.”

From the above-mentioned descriptions about acupuncture depression treatment, we can conclude that depression is related to the stagnation of liver Qi and the imbalanced physiological function of brain (Shen), which actually is caused by disorder of vital energy and blood. Therefore, the basic principle for acupuncture depression treatment is to mainly regulate Shen, accompanied with methods to relieve liver and strengthen spleen, and regulate Qi and blood.

Acupuncture therapy is an important part of Traditional Chinese medicine. According to theories of Traditional Chinese medicine, many points can be used to regulate Shen, relieve liver, strengthen spleen, regulate Qi and harmonize blood, which laid a solid foundation for a successful acupuncture depression treatment.

Since the points are so important, let’s get to know what exactly they can do about.

Acupuncture depression: Baihui (GV 20)

Baihui (GV 20) located in the middle of the crown. Poking Baihui can make Yang Qi run all over the body smoothly, which thus restore consciousness and resuscitation.

Acupuncture depression: Sishencong (EX-HN1)

Sishencong (EX-HN1) located one inch away around Baihui, 4 points in total. Sishencong are points not mentioned in the ancient medical classics, which are used mainly to help Baihui for resuscitation and brain power boosting.

Acupuncture depression: Shenting (GV 24)

Shenting (GV 24) located in the middle of the head, 0.5-inch straight above anterior hair line. Shenting can treat lacking of energy, mental retardation and other slow reactions.

Acupuncture depression: Yintang (Ex-HN 3)

Yintang (Ex-HN 3) locate in the top of the nose bridge connecting the eye-brows, which is also point not mentioned in the ancient medical classics. Yintang (Ex-HN 3) works to Shen regulation and resuscitation.

Acupuncture depression: Neiguan (PC6)

Neiguan (PC6) located on the anterior forearm, two cun above to the wrist crease, between the tendons of palmaris longus and flexor carpi radialis muscles.

Acupuncture depression: Taichong (LV3)

Taichong (LV3) located between the big toe and 2nd toe, just in front of the point where the first two meta-tarsal bones come together.

Acupuncture depression: Xinshu (BL15)

Xinshu (BL15) located in 1.5-inch under the adjacence of the fifth thoracic spinous process. Xinshu (BL15) is one of three back shu points. Xinshu can cure visceral disease.

Acupuncture depression: Ganshu (BL18)

Ganshu (BL18) located 1.5-inch under the adjacence of the ninth thoracic spinous process. Ganshu (BL18) is one of three back shu points. Ganshu (BL18) can cure visceral disease.

Acupuncture depression: Shenshu

Shenshu located 1.5-inch under the adjacence of the second thoracic spinous process. Shenshu is one of three back shu points. Shenshu can cure visceral disease.

Acupuncture depression: Ming Men ( GV4)

Ming Men ( GV4) located in the midline of back, under the depression of the second lumbar spinous process.

Acupuncture depression: Shanzhong (Ren 17)

Shanzhong (Ren 17), also known as the sea of Qi, located on the midline of the sternum, in a depression level with the fourth inter costal space. Please note that Shanzhong (Ren 17) can be located midway between the nipples on the midline in men. Shanzhong (Ren 17) can guide the Qi downwards, relieve the chest and promote blood circulation to remove meridian obstruction.

Acupuncture depression: Zusanli (ST36)

Zusanli (ST36) located below the knee, on the anterior tibialis muscle. Zusanli (ST36) can cure the illness caused by disorder of the overall Qi-blood or deficiency of Yang Qi.

Acupuncture depression: Sanyinjiao (SP6)

Sanyinjiao (SP6) Located 3 cun above the medial malleolus, posterior to the edge of the tibia. Sanyinjiao (SP6) is the intersection points of Tai Yin, Jue Yin and Shao Yin. Sanyinjiao (SP6) can regulate and strengthen liver-kidney besides regulating menses.

Acupuncture depression: Taixi (KI3)

Taixi (KI3) Located between the medial malleolus and the Achilles’ tendon. Taixi (KI3) has the effects of nourishing kidney Yin, strengthen kidney Yang, benefit kidney essence, help kidney to control Qi and regulate menses.

These above-mentioned points are used very often in acupuncture depression treatments clinically. If you master them well, you can prescribe a highly pinpointed protocol for the individual patient. For more information about acupuncture depression treatment, you can also refer to my previous articles of acupuncture for depression. As you may know, this article is just focusing on introducing the acupuncture depression points.


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