Acupuncture is a healing tradition originated in China where it has been used for more than 3000 years as a certain kind of a therapeutic procedure for pain relief. Although acupuncture is mostly known for its analgesic effects and treatment of pain helping people with different kinds of health problems, there are also other benefits associated with this procedure widely used by people worldwide. Due to the fact that acupuncture is currently used in pain management for treating certain kinds of acute and chronic pain conditions, it may be considered a clinically viable alternative to the traditional treatment of pain, various psychological diseases and other conditions.
Vadivelu, Urman, and Hines (2011) stated that “the word acupuncture was derived from Latin acus “with a needle” and pungere “puncture through the skin” (p. 337). The technique is associated with inserting thin needles in specific areas on the human body depending on the diagnosis. Although acupuncture is often used independently bringing certain health benefits to people, this therapy is often used as a combination treatment option replacing certain painkillers and helping people to feel better in a timely manner not getting highly dependent on medications.
Acupuncture is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which was used thousands of years ago benefiting people’s physical and psychological health. However, when applying acupuncture for pain relief, medical practitioners should take into account the causes of pain, its duration, the age of the patient and so on, as all of these factors may influence the outcomes of acupuncture and benefits obtained. Thus, the main benefit of acupuncture is pain management, as it may help relieving back, joint, and neck pain causing much discomfort to people in their everyday lives. Treatment of pain with the help of acupuncture should not only be organized correctly, but also controlled properly in order to achieve positive results.
Many researchers tried to explore the role of acupuncture in the overall improvement of people’s psychological health. Various psychological diseases may be also associated with some kind of pain, for example, headache and others, so acupuncture may become an effective treatment option to alleviate pain and overcome other symptoms in a timely manner. While living in the modern-day busy world, both men and women experience many problems, challenges and distress affecting their mental and psychological health negatively. However, both genders still have different rates of mental health problems interfering with their daily life and professional activity differently. Bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety are some of the most common psychological diseases affecting modern people of both genders.
However, women are more likely to experience mental health conditions compared to men, though both groups of people may apply acupuncture for other stress-related conditions worsening their general health and well-being. Scheid and Brown (2010) claim that “women suffer from higher rates of depression and anxiety (referred to as internalizing disorders), and men have higher rates of substance abuse and antisocial disorders (externalizing disorders)” (p. 256). The lack of free time and repeated daily tasks, such as cooking, cleaning and so on, impose much emotional pressure on women resulting in depression, anxiety and other health issues. As a result, women feel exhausted and irritable experiencing a feeling of hopelessness and loneliness on a daily basis. According to traditional Chinese beliefs and ideas, depression and anxiety are caused by problems and challenges in the circulation and flow of Qi in the human body, and acupuncture might help improve the flow of positive energy in the human body enabling both men and women to overcome depressive thoughts and other psychological diseases that they suffer from. People must understand that pain is the alarm signal of the body in regard to various factors, and before implementing methods of treatment it is necessary to reveal the nature of pain and underlying causes. In order to use acupuncture properly, practitioners should not only remember all points on the body, but also apply needles correctly. The Four Gates acupuncture technique might be used to treat anxiety and depression. During this procedure practitioners stimulate specific points on people’s hands helping people to feel relaxed and eradicating negative ideas and thoughts. Although modern people often use yoga or meditation, acupuncture is still not often used for treating psychological diseases.
However, alternative treatment methods are still becoming very popular in the medical field enabling people to replace drugs with various effective techniques. The Chinese approach followed in acupuncture helps to relieve pain stimulating certain nerve fibers and giving a specific signal to the organism to develop special hormones helping to make people feel better, and as a rule feel less pain after such procedures. Thus, acupuncture increases the level of pain response of the organism and may result in the long-term pain relief among patients using this Chinese method.
While comparing costs of traditional treatment options with the use of acupuncture to treat psychological diseases, people should compare the prices in different clinics offering such services. In the USA, the cost ranges from $35 up to $400 and maybe even more depending on the location, services provided, diagnosis and other characteristics (Acupuncture Cost n.d.). However, everybody should follow his/her ideas and preferences in the form of treatment, and fortunately, there are many alternatives offered in the medical setting for the treatment of the same condition. Covington (2001) states that “meridians are the channels or pathways through which Qi is flowing and circulating throughout the body, and the 12 main meridians correspond to 12 major functions or “organs” of the body” (p. 156). These meridians are associated with the proper energy flow in the organism and the correct and adequate flow of energy results in better health. The imbalance and blocking of energy flow usually results in various illnesses, diseases and pain. People practicing acupuncture are aware of these meridians while inserting needles into the human body.
Thus, this procedure may help to treat various diseases or relieve their symptoms and negative consequences. Other benefits of acupuncture are associated with the treatment of diabetes, arthritis, allergies, insomnia, substance abuse, and other health problems experienced by people of different age. Due to numerous positive effects of acupuncture, a great number of people started using this medical procedure in order to feel better and escape numerous health problems affecting not only physical but also psychological health disregarding the age. People living in the modern busy and demanding world that exposes them to much stress should be properly aware of the benefits of acupuncture to their psychological well-being.
Discussion of Findings
Today, acupuncture helps in treating anxiety disorders, depression and other psychological health conditions that people suffer from. Errington-Evans (2012) claims that “the use of acupuncture significantly reduces the symptoms of anxiety disorders” (p. 283). Thus, many modern-day medical establishments promote alternative treatments, as well as acupuncture, to treat anxiety, depression and other psychological problems escaping negative complications and problems associated with other treatment options. Finally, the benefits of acupuncture are related to the treatment of headaches and migraines.
A great number of people suffer from severe headaches on a regular basis, and not all medications help to relieve pain effectively. Acupuncture is associated with the reduction of migraine and headache among people helping them to feel better and return to the normal and productive life in a timely manner. Due to the fact that acupuncture is a holistic method of treatment allowing people to escape medications and surgeries, a great number of people rely on it experiencing numerous benefits and positive effects.
The combination of job and family demands and duties affects women’s mental health negatively, as females have to keep in mind numerous issues and concerns compared to men being highly dependent on women in many matters. Negative self-evaluation and low self-esteem of women also result in many mental health issues, and their fears and concerns are always imposed by the media promoting specific standards of beauty and general appearance. Men are less emotional and do not care much about the advertisements in the media. In addition, mental health illnesses in women may be caused by trauma, violence and abuse.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious anxiety disease which usually appears after some psychological trauma or event. There is a close connection between PTSD and domestic violence having a negative impact on women. PTSD affects the lives of women who have lived through domestic violence, as this disease greatly changes women's life and general emotional and physical state. Women are always victims and males are the abusers, and this is another reason for the increased prevalence of mental health problems among women rather than men.
Acupuncture may be also recommended for the treatment of PTSD resulting in reduced anxiety levels and improved psychological state. People with PTSD may not want to share traumatic experiences they went through, and this becomes the major obstacle for the effective treatment. While applying acupuncture for PTSD, people do not need to live through the same experience as they are not asked to share their experiences with the medical professional and simply need to get relaxed while the practitioner performs the procedure. Not all women exposed to stressful situations and events suffer from PTSD or other psychological diseases, as this depends on the level of threat and injuries, as well as on the nature of people's character and personal strength. However, acupuncture might still be helpful in overcoming different psychological problems helping people to solve sleep problems or other complications preventing them from the normal life and activity in the community. In fact, people suffering from different anxiety disorders may be recommended to use acupuncture, including those with obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, general anxiety disorder, and so on. Acupuncture might help to relieve physical symptoms of numerous psychological and emotional disorders, such as headaches, insomnia, rapid heartbeat, and so on.
People suffering from depression or anxiety may not only be regularly preoccupied with negative thoughts and the feeling of fear but also other emotional symptoms, and acupuncture may help to instill a feeling of calmness, peace and stability in them. After several procedures of acupuncture, patients usually experience improved sleep and appetite, as well as start enjoying the life forgetting about past negative feelings and emotions. In fact, patients with different kinds of psychological disorders may be highly dependent on antidepressants, and acupuncture might help to reduce the dosage or even help people stop using them completely.
Many people all over the world experience the effectiveness and positive outcomes of acupuncture in terms of treating diabetes and headaches, insomnia and depression, various kinds of pain, and other health issues. Even though this practice originated in China, it is nowadays very popular all over the world due to its contribution to pain management and improvement of people's general physical and psychological health and well-being. Due to the existence of numerous stressful situations in the modern society, more and more people use this Chinese practice to improve their health and emotional state replacing negative feelings and emotions with positive ones and improving their relations with people surrounding them in their daily lives.