Research Snapshot May 2015 – Depression
Depression is a terrible mental health problem for so many Australians. You can read about the Chinese Medicine view in my mental health section of this website.
There are many people though who still don’t believe that Acupuncture is a viable treatment for mental health, depression in particular, as unfortunately Chinese Medicine still isn’t considered very mainstream, much of the published research goes under the radar. Below I have listed several links to summaries of published journals showing Acupuncture as a treatment for Depression, and it also can aid anti depressant medication to work more effectively.
Much of this research has shown Acupuncture to help Depression by helping the brain produce Serotonin is a chemical in the brain which helps with mood balance. When you have enough of it, your mood is quite stable. Obviously if it is out of balance, then the theory is it can cause depression. Many anti depressant medications work by supplementing Serotonin in the brain in attempt to improve brain function, and thus your mood. Research papers have shown Acupuncture to be a natural stimulant for the brain to make more serotonin. It also shows that because of this function, it enables the medications to work better and for longer. This paper also found that the Acupuncture helped control the side effects of the medications.
Depression and Gene Expression
A paper from the University of York found that depression causes abnormal gene expression in large number of genes which alters brain function and nerve cells. In this study they used electroacupuncture and it was found to restore the genes to their normal function. This results in healthier brain cells and function, thus relieving the symptoms of depression. They concluded that Acupuncture could provide short to medium term relief from Depression symptoms.
Depression and Insomnia Relieved with Acupuncture
A common associated symptom with Depression is Insomnia, with patients sometimes only averaging 1-2hrs sleep a night. A paper published in the journal of Science and Healing found that the sleep of the subjects improved after an Acupuncture treatment, even those with Schizophrenia. It is believed the calming effect acupuncture has on the mind plays a part in this effect. This study also found that Acupuncture could help regulate the brain regions which are active during rest. These regions are often out of balance in people with depression, but the Acupuncture helped normalise this function.
Researchers noted that: “Acupuncture treatments have also been shown to increase nocturnal melatonin secretion and reduce insomnia and anxiety.” which is explained in more detail here.
All the research papers had a good theme in common, that Acupuncture was a safe, no invasive therapy for Depression without side effects. I will continue to update this article as more journals are published.
The list of reference articles can be found below: