Acupuncture has long been used and accepted in traditional Chinese medicine. Recent studies show that acupuncture can be used as an effective intervention for psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and schizophrenia. However, the number of studies conducted did not suffice to make the alternative treatment a recommended and essential option for treating the said disorders.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, mental illness occurs whenever there is an imbalance in the body’s energy system, especially when the affected area is the Shen, which is responsible for the various mental activities of our daily living (Samuels et al, 2008). It is said that a number of etiological factors, namely improper diet, constitutional makeup, fetal trauma, and narcotic drugs, among many others can create the mentioned imbalance (Samuels et al, 2008).
The studies conducted were concluded to be effective because in depressive patients, a study of first 29 and then 241 inpatients, they found out that electroacupuncture is as effective as amitriptyline for depressive symptoms (Samuels et al, 2008). For anxiety, there was a trial conducted wherein 30 patients who were to undergo colonoscopy and was said to be anxious for the procedure, showed that treatment with acupuncture decreased the patients’ demand for sedation, thus reducing both discomfort and anxiety during the procedure (Samuels et al, 2008).
Also, another study revealed in 91 ambulatory surgery patients that after being treated with auricular acupuncture at relaxation points, they reported significantly lower levels of anxiety than did the controls (Samuels et al, 2008). The correspondents for the substance abuse trial consisted of 82 cocaine-dependent methadone-maintained patients, and it was revealed that those assigned to acupuncture treatment were significantly more likely to provide cocaine-negative urine samples than were controls (Samuels et al, 2008). Having positive outcomes for depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, acupuncture did not give a significantly positive result for schizophrenia. The clinical significance of the study for schizophrenia has yet to be correlated with clinically significant findings.
Complementary and alternative treatments are becoming more and more accessible to many people seeking treatment satisfaction that was not provided by the primary medical treatment. Albeit not a lot of physicians recommend this kind of treatment, there is still no harm in trying them out as long as one can accept the science behind these alternative treatments. The studies and researches that were conducted for acupuncture as an effective treatment for psychiatric disorders namely depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and substance abuse were effective on the little number of respondents.
This can be a starting point for further studies to be conducted in relation to the psychiatric disorders mentioned. However, this approach still needs more research and attention to be scientifically stated as a proven fact. But this does not mean that patients suffering from these disorders cannot try acupuncture as an alternative treatment modality. In fact, patients who deem that the usual medical treatment that was recommended by their physicians are not effective are very much welcome to try acupuncture. This traditional Chinese medicine treatment is safe and has been in existence for hundreds of years, there will be no loss in trying out this method, especially when all else fails.
The patient can be advised to seek out complementary and traditional medicine when they believe that the recommended primary treatment by their physician is not effectively treating them. Acupuncture can be suggested to these patients as an alternative method, but not as the main form of treatment to be sought out for.
Samuels, N., Gropp, C., Singer, S., & Oberbaum, M. (2008). Acupuncture for Psychiatric Illness: A Literature Review. Behavioral Medicine, 34, Retrieved October, 14, 2008, from [insert URL here].