Depression and Acupuncture: Exploring Complementary and Alternative Healing

The brain is a fascinating thing, and much research is being done to explore the relationship between emotions and brain behavior. Recently, a new study was able to illustrate significant changes in brain activation for people undergoing “laser acupuncture”: the use of lasers (imperceptible to touch) to stimulate some of the same pressure points activated by traditional needle acupuncture. The participants in this particular study were not depressed, but the researchers believe the study may lead to a possible complementary treatment for people who do have depression. The parts of the brain it activated have shown to be less active in people who are depressed, so at the very least, the study illustrates the efficacy of traditional acupuncture based on the connection between brain and pressure points alone.

This scientific approach to emotions rarely, if ever, shows the whole picture. After all, our emotions and mental patterns are rarely without reason. They are tied closely to our relationships with others and with ourselves; they are bound to our past experiences and future plans. But studies like this do offer scientific proof of how effective many non-medicinal therapies can be for dealing with psychological stress. Whether for children with ADHD or adults with depression, there is a portion of the medical community that turns to pharmaceuticals as a first recourse for helping people address their needs. But traditional arts such as acupuncture, yoga, meditation and tai chi have played a role in mental health and emotional lives of cultures world wide for hundreds of years.

These arts often help people establish psychological balance and emotional resilience, not unlike the way exercise is a preventive measure against heart disease. But they may not be enough. Many people benefit from pairing such practices with psychotherapy, counseling, or group talk therapy. In complement, these approaches are particularly helpful for depression, anxiety, grief, transition, and general life issues.

© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • JANET

    JANET

    September 24th, 2010 at 9:50 AM

    Problems that can be cured without the use of pharmaceuticals should be cured that way.After all all pharmaceuticals are chemical products and are not a great thing in the long run.

  • harold s

    harold s

    September 25th, 2010 at 1:47 AM

    its like a modern way to do things in the traditional way,something that has proven to be successful for hundreds and thousands of years…sure sounds like a great thing according to me!
    honestly i would not be too comfortable if they were going to use needles to activate the pressure points in my body but i would be totally comfortable with lasers knowing fully well that it is backed by modern technology and is something that a lot of people have been through in the modern world.

  • Townshend

    Townshend

    September 25th, 2010 at 12:10 PM

    How would I go about finding a reputable acupuncturist in my area? A real one who can do me some benefit and not just some quack?

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