Acupuncture for Anxiety & Depression

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Acupuncture is a safe, natural and effective treatment for anxiety and depression. 

Acupuncture is used by the US military to treat PTSD in veterans, and is so safe that its “side effects” are all positive: better sleep and mood, less pain, anxiety and use of medications. The usual reaction to acupuncture treatment is a pleasant feeling of drowsiness, warmth and relaxation. research shows that acupuncture reduces anxiety, depression, insomnia, and substance abuse and increases optimism and mental focus. Acupuncture is as effective as drugs and psychotherapy in treating depression, and is more effective for alleviating insomnia than diazepam.

How soon after beginning acupuncture treatment will I see a decrease in my anxiety/depression?Most people feel very relaxed and experience improved mood during their first treatment. Because it is a new experience, some people have a hard time relaxing during the first treatment, but feel significantly more relaxed during their second treatment. Most people experience some shift in their sense of well being within the first few sessions.

How will I know I’m getting better? This is very subjective, but when you come in for treatment I will ask you to rate yourself 1-10 on your level of anxiety, depression, sleep quality, overall energy and sense of well being. We will keep track of these markers to give you a good indication of the success of our work together.

How many treatments will I need? Generally I recommend clients try at least 6 weekly treatments. Each person is different. Some people feel significantly better in a few sessions, others may take more treatments, and many people find regular weekly or monthly treatments are a pleasant part of their routine to maintain a balanced mood and good mental health. People with longstanding depression or anxiety often find that coming in for a treatment every week or two significantly improves their quality of life.

Will my symptoms return if I stop acupuncture? In my practice, people typically come in for about 6 weekly treatments, and after that, come back as needed, which varies. Many people choose to come in monthly because they find the treatments beneficial, while others come in a few times a year for a series of several treatments when they’re going through a stressful time in their life.

What are the side effects of acupuncture? Unlike drugs, acupuncture does not produce negative side effects. Positive side effects you may experience include better sleep, a sense of calm and enhanced well-being.

Is acupuncture safe if I’m taking antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication? Definitely! There are no containdications for acupuncture with medications.

Why doesn’t my doctor think acupuncture “works?” MDs are generally not well informed regarding alternatives to what they studied in medical school, i.e. drugs and surgery. Research shows that acupuncture is helpful for many issues, so I would say that anybody who doesn’t think acupuncture is beneficial probably hasn’t actually had personal experience with it or looked at the research with an open mind.

Is acupuncture covered by insurance? Acupuncture is not covered much by insurance in Missouri, but if you are covered (call your insurance company to find out), I can give you a receipt to submit to your insurance company for reimbursement. You can also use your flex spending health care account to pay for acupuncture.

What can I do to support my progress between sessions? The good news is there are a lot of non-drug options that can help with anxiety and depression. During your office visits, we will talk about self-care things you can do to speed your progress including herbs, supplements, diet and relaxation techniques. Behavioral cognitive therapy is something I always recommend – it’s really just about noticing your negative/anxious thoughts and questioning them, and can become a very positive habit. I always recommend fish oil (I use Now brand Ultra Omega because it’s distilled so it doesn’t cause unpleasant fishy burps and indigestion).

How do I find a qualified acupuncturist? Look for a “licensed” acupuncturist as opposed to a “certified” acupuncturist. In Missouri, medical doctors and chiropractors can be certified to provide acupuncture with only 100-300 hours of training, while a licensed acupuncturist like myself has completed a 3,000 hour (4-year) accredited master’s degree program in acupuncture and Chinese medicine that includes an extensive clinical internship.