Every day is a battle with depression. I struggle to do even the most basic of tasks like brushing my teeth. On top of that, my anxiety prevents me from functioning like a normal human being. I fear doing almost everything and anything, so I stay at home most of the time to prevent myself from freaking out in public. As much as I want to get up and seize the day, my depression and anxiety cripple me. Over the years, I have had some help with therapy and medications, but my condition still comes back and knocks me down here and there. I’ve always wondered what else I could do to improve my situation so that I can feel like myself again. I recently came across acupressure points for depression that can be treated naturally and in the comfort of my home. I’m excited to try this out and hope that this will help me on my healing journey.
What Is Depression?
Depression is a serious medical illness that alters your mood and affects your feelings, thoughts, and ability to do everyday tasks. Symptoms include persistent sadness, hopelessness, emotional stress, reduced energy, changes in appetite, suicidal ideation, and many more. These must be present for at least two weeks to be diagnosed with clinical depression. However, not many people are aware that depression can look different in everyone. While there may be similarities, not everyone experiences the same symptoms or even have the same form of depression. Variations of this condition can form under certain circumstances. For example, the seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that comes on during the winter months and then subsides during the spring and summer. Another more serious form of it is postpartum depression, which happens after a woman gives birth and affects her ability to care for their baby. As you can see, depression has many faces and can happen to people at any age. Some factors put people more at risk for depression, including personal or family history, trauma, excess stress, illness, and medications. Current conventional treatment involves medication, psychotherapy, and brain stimulation therapies.
Can Acupuncture Help With Depression?
For those of us who have gone through conventional treatment, it can truly be a lifesaver. But at times, I’ve wondered if there was a more natural way to go about treating depression. I first looked into acupuncture, the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practice of stimulating various points in the body, such as acupressure points for depression. Over the years, it has slowly worked its way into Western medicine and has become standard complementary care for some conditions. TCM theory states that the energy that flows around your body, also known as “qi”, can be blocked and result in disease. Acupuncture aims to relieve these blockages and ultimately help you heal. In terms of using acupuncture to treat depression, there is very little evidence to support its efficacy. Acupuncture has been shown to release endorphins in the body, which could help relieve some symptoms of depression. Initial research, such as this 2013 study, shows some promise in treating depression with acupuncture, but more evidence is needed to substantiate these results.
How Often Should You Have Acupuncture For Depression?
Acupuncture is not a one-stop-shop when it comes to treatment for any kind of condition. If you want to consistently improve your depression, you might need to go in for several sessions per year. Like any other treatment, acupuncture is personalized to each individual, so the frequency of sessions depends on what you need. It is highly recommended that you speak with a licensed professional acupuncturist for customized advice and a more accurate treatment plan for you. Plans are divided up into a few types. First, the intensive plan is for those who suffer from chronic conditions, and they can occur once every two weeks. After an initial treatment, you might be put through a transition phase, in which each session is spread out further and further. This helps your acupuncturist determine how often you really need treatment. If your symptoms reappear or worsen before a session, then that is an indication that you need to shorten the length between each session. Afterward, there is a maintenance phase, which is a point where you have found the sweet spot in treatment frequency and start sticking with that for a while.
How Long Does It Take For Acupuncture To Work For Depression?
Current research suggests that patients can start seeing results from acupuncture treatment for depression in as little as six to eight weeks. However, make sure to keep in mind that this can differ from person to person and will not always be the case for everyone. Some factors that can affect how long it will take for you to see results include:
- How chronic your condition is. If you have severe depression, it might take a while for you to see improvement. Once you get over this hurdle and start feeling better, it is imperative that you monitor your condition as closely as possible. Any hint of your previous condition creeping back up to the surface should mean a visit to the acupuncturist’s office. The more you prolong these symptoms, the longer it will take for you to recuperate.
- The frequency of your treatment. As previously discussed, how often you go in for treatment can directly affect the outcome. This is mainly determined by a consultation with your licensed acupuncturist and the severity of your condition. Initially, it is possible that you will undergo treatments more frequently and then gradually taper off once your symptoms have been alleviated for the most part.
- Your age. In general, it is thought that younger people are able to bounce back much quicker than their older counterparts. But with something as complicated as depression, this can vary depending on certain factors. An older person who is active and using acupuncture as a complementary treatment to their antidepressants and other clinical treatments will most likely find better results than a younger person who only uses it as a solo treatment.
While acupuncture can seem like a miracle, it is not a shortcut to a cure. The truth is that the healing process takes time. But as long as you are consistent with treating the acupressure points for depression, you will surely find relief in no time.
Can Acupressure Help With Depression?
If acupuncture sounds too intimidating to you, you can try acupressure instead. Acupressure is derived from acupuncture and works under the same TCM principles of qi, but without any needles involved. All you need to do is use your fingers or the rounded end of an object to massage the acupressure points for depression to achieve the same results. Like acupuncture, there is limited research regarding acupressure’s efficacy in the treatment of depression. A study from 2015 found that acupressure administered three times a week for four weeks in a group of hemodialysis patients significantly reduced depression, anxiety, and emotional stress. But otherwise, it still doesn’t hurt to try. Self-acupressure for depression is risk-free and could potentially help you in the long run.
11 Acupressure Points For Depression
Acupoint: LI-4 (Other Names: Large Intestine-4/He Gu/Joining Valley)
LI-4, also known as “he gu” or “junction valley”, is located on the muscle between your index finger and thumb. This acupoint is commonly used to treat stress and is known to support elimination so that we can let go of negative thoughts. It is also great for relieving pain, headaches, neck pain, and is one of the acupressure points to quit smoking.
Acupoint: HT-7 (Other Names: Heart-7/Shen Men/Spirit Gate)
HT-7, also known as “shenmen” or “spirit gate”, is located on crease of the wrist beneath the pinky finger. Acupuncturists target this acupoint for emotional issues, especially anxiety. It is believed that it serves as a gateway deep into the human heart. Other clinical indications include insomnia, amnesia, and chest pain.
Acupoint: PC-6 (Other Names: Pericardium-6/Nei Guan/Inner Pass)
PC-6, also known as “neiguan” or “inner pass”, is located three fingers below the wrist. This is a handy acupoint for relieving stress and anxiety as well as stomach pain, headaches, and insomnia. It also one of the acupressure points for gas and bloating and can be used in conjunction with the ub 43 acupuncture point for weight loss.
Acupoint: GV-20 (Other Names: The Governing Vessel-20/Bai Hui/Hundred Convergence)
GV-20, also known as “bai hui” or “one hundred meetings”, is located at the highest point on your head. This acupoint works well for depression and other mental issues. It helps to clear out and refresh your mind. GV-20 is also one of the best acupressure points for hair growth.
Acupoint: GB-20 (Other Names: Gallbladder-20/Feng Chi/Wind Pool)
GB-20, also known as “fengchi” or “windpool”, is located underneath the hairline at the back of your head. You can use this for relief of headaches, fatigue, and low energy symptoms that commonly occur in depression. It is also one of the acupressure points for neck pain.
Acupoint: Bl-14 (Other Names: Urinary Bladder-14/Jue Yin Shu/Absolute Yin Transporter)
Bl-14, also known as “jueyinshu” or “absolute yin transporter”, is located about 1.5 cun lateral to the fourth thoracic vertebra. This acupoint alleviates conditions related to the heart, such as heart palpitations that commonly occur during emotional stress. It is just as effective as one of the acupressure points for bronchitis.
Acupoint: Ren-17 (Other Names: The Conception Vessel-17/Shan Zhong/Middle of the Chest)
Ren-17, also known as “shanzhong” or “middle of the chest”, is located at the center of the breastbone, usually at the level of the nipples in males. It is a powerful point for releasing anxiety and fear in addition to improving cardiac health. Because of its proximity to the respiratory system, you can also use this as one of the acupressure points for asthma.
Acupoint: Liv-3 (Other Names: Liver-3/Tai Chong/Supreme Rush)
Liv-3, also known as “taichong” or “supreme rush”, is located 1.5 cun behind the center point between the first and the second toe. Anxiety, stress, high blood pressure, back pain, and insomnia are common targets for Liv-3. Additionally, you can use this as one of the acupressure points for blood circulation in the legs.
Acupoint: PC-8 (Other Names: Pericardium-8/Lao Gong/Palace of Toil)
PC-8, also known as “laogong” or “palace of toil”, is located at the center of the palm of your hand. It clears heart heat, making it effective for the treatment of cardiac pain that manifests in anxiety and stress. If you are also suffering from wrist pain, PC-8 also doubles as an excellent acupoint to treat in acupressure for carpal tunnel.
Acupoint: EM-2 (Other Names: /Yin Tang/Hall of Impression)
EM2, also known as “yintang”, is located between your eyebrows. This acupoint can help if you’re experiencing headaches and irritability. Stress can also manifest at night when you’re grinding your teeth. At your next session, ask your acupuncturist to treat EM2 in acupuncture for teeth grinding.
Acupoint: KI-1 (Other Names: Kidney-1/Yong Quan/Gushing Spring)
KI-1, also known as “yong quan” or “bubbling well”, is located on the sole of your foot. It relieves headaches, neck pain, dizziness, and a whole host of other symptoms that can affect you if you have depression. You can also use this as one of the acupressure points for the kidney.