The Acupuncture for Mental Health clinical interest group (AMH) publicly promotes and advocates the use of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine as a valid, safe and effective treatment modality for mental health care.
The AMH team engage with all levels of mental health, including research, policy, education and hands on clinical practice. Members are based in the greater Wellington region, and can be contacted through the 'About us' section or via the AMH contact on the menu bar.
If you are seeking support for a mental health issues yourself, or you are a mental health professional or educator, please feel free to contact us with any questions.
Acupuncture- the insertion of fine, single use sterile needles into specific points on the body to promote the self healing and regulatory mechanisms of the body.
RESEARCH - What we know so far
Research continues to support acupuncture's effectiveness in the field of mental health. Acupuncture is an easily applied therapy with an excellent safety profile. The evidence for its use in the adjunctive management of mental health conditions is promising, yet it is often overlooked..
Acupuncture can be considered as an alternative or adjunct to those suffering mental health conditions that are either
non-responsive to pharmacological agents
suffer side effects or are noncompliant (1).
Acupuncture has been suggested as a potential intervention as its effects on physiological mechanisms are similar to that of some antidepressant medications, whereby the nervous system is stimulated to release neurochemicals. Magnetic resonance (MRI) studies confirm that acupuncture at specific points correlate to specific brain responses that may impact on depressive symptoms (2).
Increasing evidence demonstrates that acupuncture may be beneficial for treating depression via modulation of the central monoaminergic system, the hypothalmic–pituitary–adrenal axis, brain neurotrophin, and the neuroimmune system (3). Recent systematic reviews showed that traditional Chinese acupuncture produced clinically-relevant benefits in reducing the severity of depression compared to sham, usual care and as an adjunct treatment to medication. It additionally found that acupuncture, when compared to counselling, was of equivalent effect (4).
Many patients suffering depressive symptoms may also be experiencing a range of other symptoms such as pain, insomnia, digestive complaints and low energy. Typically, a traditional acupuncturist will take these symptoms into account when constructing a treatment plan. Research suggests that integrative approaches, such as the incorporation of acupuncture in the treatment of mental health, has the potential to address the differing causes of mental health symptomatology which may assist in a deeper and more accurate understanding of mental health and in turn lead to improved patient outcomes.
1. Fisher P, van Haselen R, Hardy K, Berkovitz S, McCarney R. Effectiveness gaps: a new concept for evaluating health service and research needs applied to complementary and alternative medicine. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.). [Online] 2004;10(4): 627–632. Available from: doi:10.1089/acm.2004.10.627 [Accessed: 24th July 2013]
2. He T, Zhu W, Du S-Q, Yang J-W, Li F, Yang B-F, et al. Neural mechanisms of acupuncture as revealed by fMRI studies. Autonomic Neuroscience. [Online] 2015;190: 1–9. Available from: doi: 10.1016/j.autneu. 2015.03.006 [Accessed: 9th April 2015]
3. Muthmainah, Nurwati I. Acupuncture for Depression: The Mechanism Underlying Its Therapeutic Effect. Medical Acupuncture. [Online] Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 140 Huguenot Street, 3rd Floor New Rochelle, NY 10801 USA; 2016; acu.2016.1180. Available from: doi:10.1089/acu.2016.1180 [Accessed: 7th October 2016]
4. M Armour, CA Smith, LQ Wang, D Naidoo, GY Yang, H MacPherson. Acupuncture for Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of clinical medicine 8 (8), 1140.Available from: doi: 10.3390/jcm8081140. [Accessed: 2nd September 2019]