San Francisco, CA – Health observances such as Mental Health Month, Children’s Mental Health Week (May 2nd – 8th ) and Childhood Depression Awareness Day (May 4th) remind us that May is a month dedicated to mental health.
Mental disorders are common in the United States and internationally. An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. When applied to the 2004 U.S.
Census population, this figure translates to 57.7 million people. In addition, mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and Canada for ages 15-44.
Harvard Medical School reports that depression is one of the top 5 conditions for which people seek alternative care, including acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
The 3,000-year-old medical practice holds that there is no separation between the mind and body – they are interconnected and affect each other in health. When emotions are excessive, prolonged or both, they can become problematic and contribute to physical symptoms. Unlike Western medicine, which focuses primarily on symptom abatement, acupuncture and Chinese medicine treat both the symptoms of mental illness and the underlying causes of the body’s imbalances.
Chinese medicine employs a variety of techniques such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, bodywork, lifestyle/dietary recommendations and energetic exercises to restore imbalances found in the body. It provides a safe and an effective alternative to antidepressants and other medications, with the added benefit of few to no side effects.
Psychologist John Allen, from the University of Arizona in Tucson, and Acupuncturist Rosa Schnyer, conducted the very first pilot-controlled study on treating depression symptoms with acupuncture in the Western scientific world. In a double blind randomized study, 34 depressed female patients who met the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria were assigned to one of three treatment groups for eight weeks.
The first group received acupuncture treatment specifically tailored to their depression symptoms. The second group received a general acupuncture treatment not specific to depression, and the third group was placed on a waiting list for acupuncture treatment, but received no treatment. The study found that those in the tailored acupuncture treatment experienced a significant reduction in symptoms, compared to those in the non-specific treatment. Moreover, over 50% of the participants no longer met the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for depression after the study. The study findings suggest that using acupuncture alone could be as effective as other types of treatments for relieving depression symptoms typically used in Western medicine, such as psychotherapy and drugs.
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About American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine
American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ACTCM) has provided affordable, quality health care to the public and trained professionals in acupuncture, massage and Chinese medicine since 1980. In addition to its graduate curriculum, ACTCM offers continuing education, public education, community outreach and clinical services in acupuncture and herbal medicine. ACTCM has been the recipient of many awards for its curriculum, faculty and clinic, and has been voted “Best of the Bay” by both the San Francisco Weekly and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. ACTCM is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and is a private, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.