Acupuncture for Stress, Anxiety and Depression

We all live in the busy modern world full of pressure and difficulties and can face times where we feel overwhelmed or unable to cope. 

Stress from too much pressure at work or at home can lead to excessive bad mood, anger, anxiety, worry or depression.  If we allow negative emotions to overly affect our lives we end up on the path to unhappiness, relationship challenges, substance abuse, and even internal illnesses. 

After surgery or childbirth the road to recovery can at times be slow. Post-natal depression can also be a problem.

If you push yourself too hard or are pushed beyond your tolerance level, you're suffering stress.

We all need help and support from time to time and Acupuncture treatment aims to rebalance your body putting everything back in tune and restoring the natural balance of your mental, physical and emotional functions.

Generally, after a treatment, you'll feel much calmer, more relaxed and aware of the improvement in your sense of well-being.  

acupuncture for anxiety and depression



The symptoms of anxiety are often not so different to those of when you are stressed, but more severe. A key difference is when you still feel the symptoms when the stress has passed, and often occurring at random times.

Often anxiety is caused by prolonged stress, and the body simply hasn’t been able to re-balance itself.  The symptoms often affect you at night when you are trying to rest which leads to sleeping disorders and insomnia. There are many causes of anxiety and they are often triggered by family problems or stressful jobs. While the body and mind can cope with these for short periods, over a long period of time it can lead to what we call “Heart Qi deficiency” in Acupuncture.  As our Heart houses our ‘spirit’ (what makes us unique), it can become weakened by prolonged emotion strain. Common symptoms seen in clinic are:

  • Palpitations or a feeling your heart is racing
  • Inability to cope at work
  • Crying easily and uncontrollably
  • Tight chest and inability to take deep breaths
  • A feeling of a lump in your throat
  • Trouble sleeping and night sweating
  • Constant feelings of worry
  • Lethargy and even depression

All these signs point to a Heart which has become weak and then the mind lacks nourishment, which can also lead to concentration issues and poor memory.  These last two symptoms point to the digestive involvement in anxiety, which also becomes weakened from excessive emotions.  Often patients have been battling anxiety more many years, and are on medication for it. People want to stop having to rely on medications and wish to find a more natural alternative.  Though sometimes necessary, medication should not be the only therapy offered to people with anxiety.  Please note that being a Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner we don't give any advice in regards to medication.  This is a conversation you are encouraged to have with your GP. 

Anxiety often causes secondary problems to develop as the underlying problem has never received treatment, this is where Acupuncture can be helpful.


Acupuncture as an anxiety treatment

In a similar manner to how stress is treated, all your symptoms are considered so as to find the underlying cause behind your anxiety.  Every case is different but often the organs of the Liver, Spleen and Heart are involved. Mind calming points are then used to try and reduce the initial flare ups whilst re-balancing the underlying cause.

The first priority is often to correct your sleep, as rest is when the body can repair itself and re-energise.  Realise that with chronic conditions such as this, the treatment plan lasts for months, not weeks.  Anxiety does not develop overnight, it develops slowly and in the background, until you don’t realise how far things have gone.  

Don’t be ashamed to ask for help! We all need it sometimes!


Acupuncture for depression

Depression is much more than feeling in a low mood after a sad or stressful event. Depression is a serious mental and physical illness that changes how a person thinks, feels and behaves. People with depression need professional help and acupuncture and Chinese medicine are extremely beneficial.

Depression is very common with about one in six people having it during their life. 


Signs and symptoms

Depression can affect thoughts, feelings, mood, behaviour and physical health.

Some common symptoms are:

  • Loss of interest and enjoyment in life
  • Thinking and feeling sad, hopeless, helpless, worthless, in despair
  • Feeling irritable, anxious, moody and angry
  • Problems sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Appetite and weight changes
  • Feeling tired, low energy levels
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating and making decisions
  • Problems with sex or less interest in sex
  • Headaches, body aches and pain
  • Drinking more alcohol or using more drugs

All the symptoms focus around excessive negativity, which does more than change your mood, but your whole attitude towards daily life.  This can lead to not just poor health, but loss of job and disconnection from your friends and loved ones.


What causes depression according to chinese medicine

In Chinese Medicine theory, Depression is called a 'constraint syndrome', meaning the free flow of Qi (your vital energy) has become blocked or knotted.  This disrupted flow stops your Liver from performing its role to regulate the flow of Qi.  This causes your emotions to become stagnant, leading to many of the symptoms listed above.  Because of this blockage, there other symptoms you may be feeling which are as follows:

  • A tight feeling in the chest
  • Pain in the ribs
  • Constant sighing
  • Feeling of heaviness in the body
  • A feeling of a lump in your throat

These are all additional symptoms of constraint Liver Qi, that not only aid diagnosis, but help indicate which areas of your Qi flow are being more affected.  This is because Depression can also lead to other pathologies in Chinese Medicine called blood stasis, phlegm retention and internal fire, which all cause their own symptoms on top of the Depression.

Excessive emotions are the most common cause of your Qi to become knotted, which if not rectified can continue to worsen and causes disharmonies in other organs.  The failure of Qi to flow is what causes the lack of energy and poor concentration. As the digestion lacks nourishment, you lose your appetite, and as you Heart (spirit) becomes malnourished, your mood and attitude declines.  This can also cause insomnia and palpitations.

Depression can also be caused by chronic illness which not only weakens your body but also blocks the Qi flow, which triggers off the emotions and causes further constraint.


Using acupuncture as a depression treatment

The role of the Acupuncturist in clinic is to ensure the patient's Qi flows smoothly.  Many organs' Qi can be involved in constraint besides the Liver, such as your heart, lungs and kidneys. 

As each diagnosis and treatment plan is uniquely tailored, your practitioner will also include points to address the root cause of your associated symptoms.  Treating Depression is neither quick nor easy, the treatment plan can go for several months.  Ongoing maintenance is advised to help prevent the symptoms of constraint returning.  It is important though, that the client have lifestyle plans in place to help cope with daily stresses. Some of the following will help:

  • Learn about depression and its treatment
  • Ask for help. Depression is an illness, not a weakness
  • Let family and friends know how you are feeling. They may not fully understand what you're going through, but they can provide additional support
  • Some people find it helpful to write down their thoughts and feelings
  • Learn and use relaxation techniques to relax your body and mind
  • Look after yourself. Do some things that you enjoy
  • Devise a plan to follow when you see a pattern of negative thoughts developing so you can break the cycle immediately