At some point in our lives, we are likely to encounter episodes of emotional upheaval and torment and often the reasons for feeling so low are unknown. In many cases, circumstances in our life build up to an episode of anxiety or depression, while physiological changes in our bodies, such as hormonal imbalance or menopause, can also affect our emotional state.

One of the most powerful things about acupuncture is that it balances hormones. According to traditional Chinese Medical theory, emotional disorders occur when there is imbalance within the body. Mind and body are one connected unit and often excessive emotions are a cause and effect for physical change within our bodies. Imbalance comes from an excess or deficiency of yin and yang which disrupts the flow of qi or energy through the body. 

In traditional Chinese medicine, emotions relate to each organ. For example, fear to the kidneys; worry to the spleen; anger to the liver; joy to the heart and grief to the lungs. If any of these emotions are extreme in our body, the associated organ and its function and energetics, in time, will be affected. For example: constant worry and overthinking and excessive mental work can affect our digestive system which impacts on our energy, production of qi, blood and fluids (in Chinese medicine terms), leading to a variety of physical issues such as diarrhoea, weight gain, body weakness, tiredness as well as reducing our mental capacity for thinking memorising and concentration and emotional stability.

Treatment with acupuncture can alleviate symptoms associated with mental health, depression and anxiety by treating the root cause of the problem and helping to rebalance the body’s internal environment. Treatments are tailored, by a registered acupuncturist, to each individual taking into consideration all their physical and emotional symptoms as well as diet and lifestyle factors.

From a Western viewpoint, acupuncture works to alleviate stress by releasing natural pain-killing chemicals in the brain, called endorphins. In addition, acupuncture improves circulation of blood throughout the body, which oxygenates the tissues and cycles out cortisol and other waste chemicals. The calming nature of acupuncture also decreases heart rate, lowers blood pressure and relaxes the muscles.

By inserting very fine needles into acupuncture points, which lie at specific predetermined anatomical locations, we stimulate body’s energy (Qi) to start the healing process and assist it to restore its natural balance. Acupuncture points can help energy flow smoothly, and alleviate emotional stress. You will feel the effects either during or within hours of your acupuncture treatment however it is more beneficial to have a course of treatments as each treatment is incremental in the healing process.

Studies have shown that acupuncture is beneficial through all stages of a woman’s life from PMT syndrome, fertility issues, pregnancy and menopausal symptoms. A recent study found that there is evidence to suggest that acupuncture may be an effective treatment for the high prevalence of anxiety and depression in woman where there is high relapse rates and medication side effects. (Acupuncture for Treating Anxiety and Depression in Women: A Clinical Systematic Review. David P. Sniezek, DC, MD, MBA, FAAMA1 and Imran J. Siddiqui, MD)

Always choose a qualified, registered acupuncturist.

Eva Heffernan
Dip Acu, Dip CHM, Dip Gynae Obstetrics
Secretary Acupuncture Council of Ireland