Acupuncture: Can it help manage depression and anxiety?

When there is congestion on the highway, energy gets backed up.

Femidist on acupuncture and depression

Can acupuncture help manage depression and anxiety?

There are many strategies to consider beyond the medical model of care for the management of mental health issues.

You may be surprised to learn Chiropractic, Kinesiology, Massage, Bowen, Acupuncture and many other treatments all have a role to play in treating mental health issues.

I discussed last month my personal experience with Chiropractic care as a management strategy for depression and anxiety.

Today I am going to briefly share some information on acupuncture.

I have never used acupuncture specifically to manage mental health issues and please remember this site is only for education or personal interest. Furthermore, I do not claim to provide any form of medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is an ancient form of Chinese medicine which entails stimulating certain points on the body with a needle penetrating the skin. It works on the principle of stimulating those points to correct imbalances in the flow of energy (Qi: pronounced Chee) through channels known as meridians.

Acupuncture needles. Femidist post Through 350 acupuncture points in the body meridians and energy flows may be accessed.  If needles are inserted into these points with appropriate combinations it is said that blocked energy flow can be brought back into correct balance.
What does the evidence say about acupuncture?

What I have found doing a very brief review of the literature is that while acupuncture could be one promising alternative to antidepressant medication, there are almost no scientific randomised controlled trials available to validate this.

One article I found called Acupuncture for Depression: A critique of the evidence base concluded ….cconsiderable uncertainty remains about whether acupuncture can be an effective intervention for depression.

As this study points out replicating studies to measure in a double blinded experiment would be impossible because subjects would know whether or not they were receiving the treatment! Duh.

Also the therapeutic nature of touch in itself may make patients feel better giving acupuncture a strong placebo effect. I personally am in favour of placebos. Hey if it makes me feel better then it works, right?

Femidist post on acupuncture.






My take on the “research” is that there is emerging evidence exploring the benefits of acupuncture for treating depression and anxiety. It is simply not abundant as there is no financial incentive for drug companies to promote it.

You may like to read more of the research I found.  Here is one and Here is another

Poppycock and witchcraft?

So it is hard to scientifically prove the benefits of complementary therapies. How convenient. That is the very problem with science and the medical model of care. Anything moving away from the current popular medical model of care is touted as “unscientific” therefore not a valuable method of health management at best and poppycock or witchcraft at the worse.

I am all for considering poppycock and witchcraft, so I am happy to investigate qualitative studies and anecdotal evidence. I am also very comfortable respecting medicine which has been around a lot longer than our western version.

Could depression and anxiety be blocked Qi?


Qi symbol. Femidist post on acupuncture for depression
Google images assures me this is the symbol for Qi

The energy running through the meridians of the body is referred to as Qi in Traditional  Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Meridians can be thought of as a highway and when meridians are free, with no roadblocks or accidents, the Qi energy flows freely.



While I have not tried acupuncture to manage depression or anxiety, I have used it for other situations. There have been plenty of times in my life where my Qi as been well and truly blocked. I both enjoy the treatment and the results.

Getting to the point now….

Traditional Chinese Medicine views medicine as a disharmony that is caused by not enough Qi , constrained flow of Qi and/or a disturbance in one or more body systems. Everyone is considered unique in TCM and the ancient practice has many layers treating mind-body and spirit. Many factors are considered such as sleep, exercise, work patterns and diet.

This holistic approach to health makes so much sense to me.

As the approach to mental health issues is holistic in TCM so are the treatment modalities. Acupuncture is considered a part of an overall approach not a stand alone treatment.

I love this analogy…

Imagine your body is a river with water flowing through it. When a tree falls in the middle of the river, it creates havoc at the top and bottom of the river as well. Things like a poor diet, emotional stress, or physical trauma are the equivalent of the tree falling in the river. Acupuncture attempts to remove the tree and restore the normal flow of energy throughout your body. (Seanna Sifflet)

Your thoughts?

Have you tried acupuncture to help treat depression or anxiety?

I would love to hear about your experience. Please comment below.


References and Links

Acupuncture: How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture for depression: A critique of the evidence base

Can TCM help anxiety and depression?

Looking at depression through Chinese medicine

Psychology Today


The information provided on the Femidist website is intended for educational and/or entertainment purposes only. While the information published on this site is believed to be accurate at the time of writing, it is not intended in any way as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the physical or mental health of yourself or your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified healthcare provider.

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