Depression is a serious mental health problem with symptoms such as low mood, fatigue, weight change, disturbed sleep, and inability to enjoy daily life despite having money and a loving family. It can significantly interfere with the quality of life and even lead to suicidal thoughts. Conventional Western medicine focuses on symptom treatment without getting to the root of the problem, and the medications prescribed also come with several side effects, such as severe mood swings, insomnia, weight gain and migraines.

In order to feel happy and enjoy the normal routine life, we need to have balanced chemicals in our body. Serotonin, GABA, and progesterone usually make us relaxed; dopamine, glutamate, aspartate and adrenaline stimulate our brain so we can have motivation to do things we find rewarding. Endorphin can also make us happy. The stimulating, relaxing and rewarding chemicals need to be balanced in order to achieve a happy mood. If GABA, serotonin and progesterone are too much, we feel tired and not motivated to do things we need to do, or we do not want to make the effort to achieve something. Those relaxing hormones make us sleep deeper and digest better, so people who relax more tend to live longer; they may not be able to achieve very much, but they are happier. On the other hand, as adrenaline and dopamine stimulate certain areas of the brain, we tend to focus more and be motivated to do something. Coffee and chocolate seem to stimulate the release of dopamine and adrenaline, so that people feel like they have more energy to achieve something. But those stimulating chemicals can increase your heart rate and burn more calories, making the energy flow to the big muscles instead of the digestive system. Coffee also induces insulin release, so too much coffee actually can make women gain weight because high insulin moves the blood sugar into the fat cells; the body can not burn the calories but instead will store the energy as fat tissue. That is why, once people start using insulin, they tend to accumulate fat in the belly area. High insulin can also cause inflammation and stimulate the breast cysts and prostate to grow.

Electrical acupuncture has been used to help people with depression for the past 30 years. Much research has verified that acupuncture can help the body produce more dopamine, serotonin and endorphin. When people have regular acupuncture treatment, they can cut down on medications, and they can lose weight because acupuncture also can increase their metabolism and help them produce more energy. One side effect of anti-depression medications is that they slow down the metabolism, so that people gain weight over the years. A new study published in Med Sci Monit. 2017 by Ding Luo et. al indicated that electro acupuncture can modify the glutamatergic neurotransmission system to reduce the symptoms of major depressive disorder. According to this study, electro-acupuncture can be used to achieve an antidepressant effect by enhancing the function of glial glutamate transporter EAAT2, which supports 90% of glutamate neurotransmission, in the hippocampus and pre-frontal cortex. However, it takes slightly longer for acupuncture to change the gene expression of the glutamate transporter EAAT2, so, when we use acupuncture treat depression; it is advisable to start 2 to 3 times a week to accumulate the anti-depressive effect, because a sufficient dosage is necessary to modify the gene expression.

Author's Bio: 

Li Zheng is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist and a graduate of the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine with 11 years of formal training, including 6 years of residency. She holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the US and is a Harvard Medical School-trained researcher and a professor at the New England School of Acupuncture. Her two practices are located in Needham, MA and Boca Raton, FL. She has 26 years of clinical experience. Here she is sharing the information about Acupuncture and Depression.