Acupuncture can provide help you return to a happier life, says acupuncturist Dr Dolly Gurbaxani.
Are you struggling with low mood, lack of sleep, hypersomnia, anxiety and depression? You are not alone.
Millions of people across the globe suffer from major depression and anxiety disorders.
It is a very common condition in today's fast-paced, high-stress society.
And those who have a serious or chronic medical condition like diabetes, cancer, stroke, are more likely to suffer from depression.
However, a lot of people would rather suffer silently than seek help for depression or anxiety because they fear hospitalisation.
Not many are aware that acupuncture can provide a natural form of relief from these feelings and help one return to a happier life.
Acupuncture is a safe alternative for pregnant women too. It is as effective as anti-depressants in the treatment of inflammation and depression during pregnancy.
Patients eager for holistic healing have benefited with acupuncture in conjunction with counselling.
Every acupuncture session may not provide complete and full relief right away.
If one's condition is mild, recent and easy to diagnose, then the treatment works really fast as opposed to someone who has been depressed for years, is on heavy medication and has seen umpteen specialists to get cured.
Let's not get gloomy as this does not indicate that acupuncture does not work on people who have been depressed for years.
It is just that it may take longer to see the lasting progress.
How it works
So how does acupuncture work to help cure anxiety and depression?
The first thing is to find out the root cause of the condition.
Anger, sadness, fear, joy and worry are co-related to each of the five Yin organs of the body.
Imbalance within these organs could be the origin of the emotion.
Excessive joy can lead to over excitement of the heart.
An imbalance of fire within the body can create heat in the heart that leads to anxiety and insomnia.
The kidney being a water organ functions to balance the fire of the heart helping to contain an excess of fire.
The heart fire rises up disturbing the mind only when the kidney is deficient.
Depression is considered to be a problem with the circulating Qi around one's body.
When one's mood becomes low, it depresses the flow of Qi within the body leading to liver Qi stagnation.
This impairment in the flow of Qi can affect other psychological behaviour like sleep, digestion and energy levels.
The liver is the energetic organ responsible for circulating Qi or vital energy along with the heart and spleen playing supporting roles.
The most common acupuncture treatment used to increase the flow of Qi involves stimulating source points on both the hands, between the thumb and index fingers and on both the feet between the big toe and second toe.
The insertion of fine sterilised needles into the skin at specific points creates a micro injury that triggers a cascade of immune, inflammatory and nervous responses.
This is remarkably effective in shifting the body into the rest and digest mode that has a powerful effect on easing anxiety.
It improves the body's functions and promotes natural self-healing process by anatomic sites commonly known as acupuncture points and induces the release of norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine.
The frequency and number of treatments differ from person to person with some patients experiencing dramatic relief in the first treatment.
For long standing chronic conditions, a couple of sittings a week for several months are recommended. For acute cases, 8 to 10 sittings are required.
The most common after effect of acupuncture is a lingering sense of calm and well being.
It shows that the treatment can stimulate nerves under the skin and in muscle tissues.
The result is in the body producing pain relieving substances, such as endorphins.
The stimulation of the vagus nerve which connects the organ with the brain can directly inhibit the production of IL-1B, IL-6 and other pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Long term acupuncture sessions can increase the levels of anti-inflammatory IL-10 cytokines.
As one of the oldest and most commonly used practices across the world, acupuncture can also address the many symptoms that come with depression including poor sleeping habits, poor memory and stomach aches.
If your loved one is battling with depression and anxiety then s/he lacks the skills to manage stress and balance emotions.
Get them to see an allopathic doctor and an acupuncturist before their case gets severe and potentially life threatening.
Worsening depression needs to be treated as soon as possible.
Acupuncture almost never causes side effects, is safe and works right away.
Patients do not become dependent on allopathic drugs and do not have to worry about the debilitating side effects they can have.
Acupuncture helps to reduce stress, ultimately encouraging and supporting a greater sense of wellbeing and balance.
4 DIY acupuncture points to combat anxiety and depression:
Press on the middle of your forehead (between your eyebrows) to help calm the mind. You can also gently tap your third eye when feeling stressed.
Press gently on the area between the inner corners of your eyes and the side of your nose to help relieve sinus pressure, headaches and tension.
Press in the middle of the indent between your lower lip and your chin to help balance hormonal fluctuations.
Sea of Tranquillity
It can be easily located on the centre of the breastbone, about four finger-widths up from the base of the bone. You can press this point when you are in the prayer position with your palms joined, fingers pointing upward, and the knuckles of the thumb pressing into the breastbone. It helps restore a sense of calm and relieves anxiety, nervousness, depression, hysteria and other emotional imbalances. It also helps boost the immune system.
Photograph: Kind courtesy JD Lasica/Creative Commons
Dr Dolly Gurbaxani is a pioneering anaesthetist acupuncturist in India, and is an honorary professor (retired) with the Grant Medical College and the JJ Group of Hospitals. Email: email@example.com.