Depression is a mood disorder with both physical and mental symptoms that can make it very difficult to function. Depressed people often suffer from poor sleep habits, tearfulness, anxiety, restlessness, poor memory, concentration problems, muscle aches, and stomach disorders. In extreme cases, patients become helpless.

Modern medicine uses psychotherapy and / or antidepressants to treat depression. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) aims to treat certain symptoms using a variety of techniques, such as acupuncture, Chinese herbs, tui-na massage, and qigong, which are exercises that restore the body's energy balance. During an acupuncture treatment, thin needles are placed on various acupuncture points to stimulate the flow of energy. While acupuncture is first and foremost a great preventative measure, it has also proven effective in treating pain and chronic conditions.

Since the early 1990s, worldwide research has suggested that the use of acupuncture in treating depressed patients has a positive effect on the overall outcome of therapy, especially when acupuncture is used in conjunction with psychotherapy and other types of therapy.

Psychologist John Allen of the University of Arizona in Tucson and Rosa Schnyer conducted the first controlled study of treating depression symptoms with acupuncture. In a randomized double-blind study, 34 depressions in women who met DSM-IV diagnostic criteria were assigned to one of three treatment groups for an eight-week period. The first group received acupuncture treatment with the use of acupuncture points specially adapted to their symptoms of depression. The second group received general acupuncture, not limited to symptoms of depression, and the third group was placed on the acupuncture waiting list but was not treated. Studies have shown that in a group of patients in which specifically adjusted acupuncture points were used, there was a significant reduction in symptoms, compared to the non-specific treatment group. Moreover, over 50% of participants did not meet the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for depression after the treatment period.

Research suggests that acupuncture may be as effective as other types of depression-relieving therapies typically used in Western medicine. While these results are promising and the WHO has approved the use of acupuncture to treat depression, further clinical trials involving larger groups of patients are needed to further prove the effectiveness of the new hope for relief.

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