Depression and Anxiety often go hand in hand. Anxiety is complex, and having it can affect every aspect of your day. Normal daily activities, from waking up to doing your job to engaging in a healthy personal life can trigger intense and persistent emotional responses of worry. Anxiety can also lead to physical symptoms of increased heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating, and fatigue. Many people are affected by anxiety in our fast-paced modern world of constant activity and comparison. Depression can feel hopeless. It can take away the joy that hobbies, work, or connections with people once brought you. So many people are currently experiencing the heaviness of its symptoms, which look different for everyone.
Acupuncture helps control anxiety by stimulating the parts of the brain that regulate emotions, the limbic system. This slows the body’s production and release of stress hormones, in order to decrease emotional reactivity. Beyond the brain and endocrine system, the internal organs are seen as intimately tied to the emotions in Chinese Medicine. Acupuncture sends healing factors to organs that are out of balance. By balancing the energy of these organs and promoting blood flow to optimize their health, acupuncture can restore physiological function to your internal body. The restoration of physical health is closely tied to your mental-emotional state of wellbeing.
Depression is commonly caused by stress, especially if it continues to build up over time. Without a way to relax, the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) finds itself constantly triggered. This is the system in charge of your “fight or flight” response, which should be reserved for intense situations. Constantly being in “fight or flight” mode is extremely taxing on the body and can manifest with the emotional, physical, and behavioral symptoms of depression. There are many expressions of this, but those suffering from depression commonly have low energy, worrying thoughts, anxiety, pessimism, difficulty focusing, eating and digestive problems, and isolating tendencies. If in proper balance, the body should spend more time in “rest and digest” mode, which is controlled by the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS). Acupuncture has the ability to access the central nervous system and tip the balance by relaxing the SNS and activating the PNS.
Beyond acupuncture’s ability to direct the body into a state that facilitates an improvement in depression symptoms, it can also help reduce reliance on prescription drugs. These drugs are the normal course of action that Western Medicine treats acupuncture with, however many cause negative side effects that include an increase in the symptoms of depression. Acupuncture is a holistic approach to treating depression, as it takes into account the interwoven relationship between the mind and the body and restores harmony to the whole system.