Can Acupuncture Help with Depression?

Acupuncture has become a popular alternative therapy for various health conditions, including depression. Many people turn to it as a complementary treatment to supplement traditional medicine, but can acupuncture help with depression? The short answer is yes. There is mounting evidence that acupuncture can be an effective therapy for depression.

What is depression?

Depression is a mental health disorder characterized by persistent sadness and loss of interest in once enjoyable activities. It is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide, and it can impact every aspect of a person’s life, including work, relationships, and daily activities. Various factors, including genetics, life events, and chemical imbalances in the brain can cause depression.

Depression can present in many different ways, and symptoms can vary from person to person. Some common symptoms of depression include persistent sadness or hopelessness, fatigue, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, difficulty concentrating, and loss of interest in once enjoyable activities. In some cases, depression can lead to thoughts of self-harm or suicide. It is important to seek help if you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of depression, as effective treatments are available and can help improve your quality of life.

What are the different types of depression?

  • Major depressive disorder: a type of depression characterized by intense feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness that interfere with daily life.
  • Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia): a chronic form of depression that lasts for two years or more and is characterized by a persistent feeling of sadness and a lack of interest or pleasure in activities.
  • Bipolar disorder (manic depression): a mood disorder characterized by cycles of depression and periods of mania, which can include feelings of extreme happiness, impulsivity, and high energy levels.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): a type of depression that occurs during the winter months when there is less sunlight and is characterized by symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, and changes in appetite.
  • Postpartum depression: a type of depression that can occur after giving birth and is characterized by feelings of sadness, anxiety, and difficulty bonding with the baby.
  • Psychotic depression: a type of depression that can include symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia.
  • Atypical depression: a type of depression that includes symptoms such as increased appetite, weight gain, and a tendency to feel better in response to positive events.
  • Situational depression: a type of depression that occurs in response to a specific event or situation, such as the loss of a loved one, a relationship breakup, or a job loss.
  • Substance-induced depression: a type of depression that occurs as a result of drug or alcohol use or withdrawal from these substances.

How acupuncture can help with depression

Studies have shown that acupuncture can be an effective treatment for depression. A review of 30 clinical trials involving over 2,000 patients found that acupuncture was more effective than no treatment or sham acupuncture in reducing depressive symptoms. Acupuncture has also been shown to be as effective as cognitive-behavioral therapy, a commonly used psychotherapy for depression.

Acupuncture works by stimulating specific points on the body with thin needles. These points are believed to be connected to energy channels throughout the body. By stimulating these points, acupuncture can help restore balance and promote healing. In the case of depression, acupuncture is thought to help regulate the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which are known to play a role in mood regulation.

Links to Studies about acupuncture and depression

  • Major Depressive Disorder: A study in Psychological Science found that acupuncture can provide significant symptom relief for those with major depressive disorder, and 64% of those in the study experienced full remission after getting acupuncture three times a week for eight weeks. 
  • Bipolar Disorder: A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that all of the patients in their 20-patient study experienced an improvement in their bipolar disorder symptoms.
  • Postpartum Depression: A meta-analysis found in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine analyzed nine trials with 653 women and found that acupuncture was effective in reducing the symptoms of depression.
  • Depression in general: A meta-analysis in the Journal of Clinical Medicine of 29 studies with 2,268 patients found that acupuncture resulted in clinically significant reductions in the severity of depression. 
  • Depression during pregnancy: A study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that acupuncture was a safe and effective treatment of depression during pregnancy. They also found evidence that effectively treating depression during pregnancy can prevent postpartum depression. 


In conclusion, acupuncture can be an effective complementary therapy for depression. It has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and may be a valuable addition to a traditional treatment plan. However, if you are considering acupuncture for depression, it is essential to consult with a licensed practitioner and discuss any potential risks or concerns with your healthcare provider.


If you are looking for a Denver acupuncture clinic for help with depression, or need help with your digestive problems, headaches, pain, psychological conditions, or women’s health issues, contact us today at (720)285-6251 or book an appointment online.