Acupuncture Can Help Relieve Symptoms of Mental Health Disorders

In the US, mental health (MH) disorders affect up to 26% of individuals aged 18 years old an order. The pandemic has contributed to the exaggeration of MH disorders through mandatory social isolation and an increase in stress among the general population. On college campuses, MH disorders are also on the rise. 

The rise of MH disorders in college students may be exacerbated by academic pressure, financial stress, and many more. MH disorders may negatively affect college students’ quality of life, physical health, wellbeing, and academic performance. MH disorders include various health alterations, such as insomnia, emotional eating, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse disorders. 

Millikin University’s dedication is helping students through counselors and psychiatrists who are available by appointment.

Traditional treatment for an individual who experiences MH disorders includes prescription drugs to manage symptoms. Unfortunately, many medications used to treat MH disorders have undesirable side effects. 

Side effects are unwanted or unexpected effects or reactions to a cure. In addition, a holistic option like acupuncture may be worth considering as an adjunct to traditional therapy to improve the response to treatment and better manage the MH disorders.

Acupuncture is a holistic complementary option that may offer relief without a high risk of side effects. The acupuncture method consists of inserting one or more skinny steel needles into a specific site called acupuncture points on the body surface for stimulation for therapeutic purposes. 

The mapping out of the acupuncture points was effective since ancient Chinese times during the healing process. The therapeutic effect of acupuncture depends on the depth of insertion of the needle, the duration of needling, and needle stimulation. 

The treatment process of MH disorders respects various acupuncture systems and protocols. The frequency and duration of acupuncture will depend on MH disorders and the body’s response to the treatment. 

The acupuncturist will design an individualized treatment for each patient, and both will agree on the plan. Regardless of the chosen method for acupuncture treatment, the goal of acupuncture is calming the mind and restoring the sense of wellbeing. 

If acupuncture effectively decreases the symptoms of the MH disorders, the individual’s primary care provider may reduce the prescribed medication dose. As a result, the individual may experience an added benefit of decreased risk of medication side effects.

While researchers have not found the exact mechanism of action of acupuncture, they have suggested that acupuncture benefit may result from the potentiation and modulation of the network of the endogenous opioid. For example, the activation of endogenous opioids through acupuncture may plays a role in improving expectation and attention. 

In addition, the activation of the endogenous opioid may also play a role in pain control, response to and regulation of stress, digestion, respiration, endocrine, and immune functions, and the body’s natural healing abilities. Thus, their activation through acupuncture will likely benefit in managing MH disorders and improving the other body systems functioning.

For college students suffering from MH disorders, it may be worthwhile to speak with their primary care provider about the possibility of adding acupuncture to their treatment regimen. As a necessary caution, an individual should not discontinue any prescribed medication unless advised to do so by their primary care provider. 

While acupuncture is not a replacement for medication therapy, it is a holistic treatment that may be a practical complementary approach to treating individuals who experience MH disorders.


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