Our fast-paced highly functional lives are keeping us busy and engaged at all times. However, as our phones are getting smarter and our schedules tighter, certain matters are getting overlooked—one of which is our health. While social media has made it convenient to be connected with each other, people still feel disconnected and withdrawn. Mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and several other mood disorders afflict many among us.
According to a 2004 survey, more than 10 percent of the population suffers from depression, but many go undetected due to the stigma attached to the condition. Mental health organizations around the world estimate that about two thirds of adults will at some time experience depression severe enough to interfere with their normal activities.
Conventional psychotropic medicines, while helping elevate moods, have long-term side-effects. Natural remedies have been researched for a long time in helping with depression. Herbs, foods and yoga have been studied to effectively treat depression, reduce anxiety and improve mental well-being. Another alternative therapy which has been effective in recent times in treating depression is acupuncture.
Acupuncture For Depression
An ancient form of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is based on the principle of stimulating key points on the body to regulate the flow of Qi (pronounced as chi) in the body. Dr Dharam Singh from The Center for Energy Medicine, West Hollywood says, “Acupuncture can help depression in a multitude of ways. In Oriental Medicine, the first step is to understand which organ system is the primary reason for the depression. The second is to balance the organ system and eliminate depression at the root rather than treat the symptom and mask the root.”
In general, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and initiate the release of neurochemicals—endorphins. [1,2,4] These chemicals in turn activate several biochemical changes that influence the body’s homeostatic mechanisms, promoting a feeling of physical and emotional well-being. 
Dr Singh further adds, “Another element in treating depression is getting the patient “unstuck” from their current predicament. Acupuncture reigns supreme at correcting that stuck feeling by unblocking energy channels and re- establishing balance and a free flow of energy in the body. Acupuncture, at its core, is an energy medicine system.”
What Research Says
Several studies have indicated the positive effect of acupuncture on improving the mood and treating anxiety.  There is data specifying that acupuncture can benefit people suffering from depression through the release of dopamine, noradrenaline, cortisol and serotonin—all which are known to improve the mood and relax the mind. [4,5]
There have been abundant studies on assessing the usefulness of acupuncture in treating depression. [1,2,3] While most studies have been carried out in China and scientists continue to argue over their efficacy, one cannot ignore the fact that, while acupuncture cannot replace conventional treatment, it surely can be a natural way to recover from depression.
Remember, depression doesn’t necessarily have to conflict with your daily activities and hamper your overall life. Managing stress effectively and incorporating healthy lifestyle habits, eating right and getting adequate physical activity can all help in curbing the harmful effects of depression.
1. MacPherson H, Richmond S, Bland M, Brealey S, Gabe R, Hopton A, Keding A, Lansdown H, Perren S, Sculpher M, Spackman E, Torgerson D, Watt I. Acupuncture and counselling for depression in primary care: a randomised controlled trial.PLoS Med. 2013;10(9):e1001518. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001518. Epub 2013 Sep 24. PubMed PMID: 24086114; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3782410.
2. Eshkevari L, Permaul E, Mulroney SE. Acupuncture blocks cold stress-induced increases in the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis in the rat. J Endocrinol.2013 Mar 15;217(1):95-104. doi: 10.1530/JOE-12-0404. Print 2013 Apr. PubMed PMID:23386059.
3. Macpherson H, Elliot B, Hopton A, Lansdown H, Richmond S. Acupuncture for Depression: Patterns of Diagnosis and Treatment within a Randomised Controlled Trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:286048. doi: 10.1155/2013/286048. Epub 2013 Jun 27. PubMed PMID: 23935657; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3712236.
4. Han JS. Acupuncture and endorphins. Neurosci Lett. 2004 May 6;361(1-3):258-61. Review. PubMed PMID: 15135942.
5. Huang Y, Wang XJ, Wang LL, Lu SF, Zhu BM, Xu LF. [Anti-depressive effect of acupuncture on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors]. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2013 Oct;33(10):1341-4. Chinese. PubMed PMID: 24432676.
6. Errington-Evans N. Acupuncture for anxiety. CNS Neurosci Ther. 2012 Apr;18(4):277-84. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-5949.2011.00254.x. Epub 2011 Jun 7. Review. PubMed PMID: 22070429.