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Mind and Body

Acupuncture Helps Relieve Depression, Expert Says

Doctor performing acupuncture on woman lying on exam table.(c) Allison Michael Orenstein

Antidepressants are among the most prescribed medications in the U.S. – but instead of popping a pill to relieve symptoms – some people are turning to alternative therapies such as acupuncture.

Jamie Starkey, an acupuncturist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine, said studies show this ancient method can promote the flow of “good” chemicals to the brain.

“The functional MRI studies are showing that acupuncture has an influence over brain chemicals, such as dopamine and serotonin. And those are the chemicals that make you feel good. Those are the happy chemicals,” Starkey said.

Acupuncture is also a good alternative for women who are pregnant and for people who no longer want to rely on antidepressants.

“And so, what we’re finding is that for these patients that are suffering from mild to moderate depression, acupuncture is just as effective as these antidepressants,” Starkey added.

And for patients who really want optimal results, Starkey said combining acupuncture with antidepressants can help a person get a “better therapeutic effect.”