Do you suffer from depression and would like to try acupuncture? Would you like to know if acupuncture is a natural treatment option for depression?

In this article, we will explore how acupuncture works for depression, if acupuncture can cure depression, how many sessions are required, how much it will cost.

Acupuncture for Depression

Acupuncture over time has received more and more ground in regard to understanding if it is an option for helping with depression. This one scientific review that was conducted in 2010 and then updated in 2018 found the following:

  • When combined with medication: Acupuncture may play a small role in reducing the severity of depression when combined with medications.

  • When used alone: When acupuncture is used on its own, the review concluded that acupuncture may be highly effective in reducing the severity of depression.

  • When compared to counseling: Acupuncture was found to be no more or less effective in treating depression when compared to counseling.

  • Adverse side effects: Compared to medication treatments for depression - acupuncture presented less adverse side effects during the time the review was conducted.

The review also concluded that further high-quality randomized controlled trials would be beneficial to further develop our understanding of the effectiveness of acupuncture for depression.

Will Acupuncture Cure Depression?

Frequently, people find themselves wanting to find a cure for depression. This can lead to pondering the question: Will acupuncture cure depression? Acupuncture is a holistic treatment option for managing the symptoms of depression and can help with experiences that may arise from depression. At its core, acupuncture is a treatment that can work as a method of reducing depression severity. However, it is not a cure for depression.

5 Benefits of Acupuncture for Depression

Here are five benefits of acupuncture for depression:

  1. Reduce stress: At the end of an acupuncture session, many people walk away from the experience feeling calm and relaxed.

  2. Feelings of restfulness: There have been self-reports of people falling asleep during acupuncture treatment.

  3. Pain relief: Experiencing pain can coincide with a greater level of depression symptoms. Acupuncture can be helpful in reducing pain level and in-turn lead to lowered levels of depression.

  4. Hormones and chemicals: Acupuncture influences the hormones and chemicals released in the brain, body, and the signals sent through the nervous system.

  5. Mood change: The changes in hormones, chemical, brain, and nervous system can lead to mood changes.

12 Acupuncture Points for Treating Depression

There are many different acupuncture points throughout the body. According to this one study, the following twelve acupuncture points have been documented as being beneficial for depression:

  1. Yinxi (HT6)

  2. Qihai (CV6)

  3. Hegu (L14)

  4. Master of Heart 6 (MH6)

  5. Yanglingquan (GB34)

  6. Zusanli (ST36)

  7. Taixi (K13)

  8. Shugu (BL65)

  9. Sanyingjiao (SP6)

  10. Quchi (LI11)

  11. Guanyuan (CV4)

  12. Zhongwan (CV12)

Individualized Acupuncture Treatment

The acupuncture points from the study above are twelve that were studied and found to be beneficial for depression. However, acupuncture is not like buying a one-size-fits-all outfit. Often times the acupuncture points are chosen based on many aspects of information gathered by your acupuncturist - from answers to their questions about your health to your pulse, and your tongue, acupuncturists gain information for needle placement. For more information on what to expect during acupuncture, read: What is Acupuncture Treatment Like?

How Many Acupuncture Sessions are Required for Depression?

When trying to ascertain the number of acupuncture sessions required for depression, let's take a look at what research has discovered:

This one study looked at how acupuncture helped participants with:

  • Only pain

  • Pain and depression

  • Only depression

The study was conducted by comparing outcomes to two other forms of treatment:

  • Counseling
  • Medications

The results of the study were gathered over different results over different time spans of:

  • 3 months

  • 6 months

  • 9 months

  • 12 months

This is what the study concluded about the number of sessions needed:

  • At 3 months, a large reduction in depression was documented for participants who also experience pain.

  • In comparison, at 3 months, participants who only used counseling to treat their depression were documented as experiencing a lower level of reduction in depression symptoms.

  • After the reduction in depression at the 3-month marker, depression levels did not show any documented change between the 6-12 time intervals when information was gathered. In fact, at the 6-12 time intervals, the participants level of depression stabilized instead of increasing or reducing.

  • At 3 months, the study found that acupuncture leads to the following number of depression-free days:

Depression-Free Days with Acupuncture

From the study we can see that three months of acupuncture sessions may be the most beneficial. However, it is important to emphasize that acupuncture treatment is individualized and personalized to each person. As such, this is also a recommendation based on one study.

You may find that you will see improvement for depression sooner or with more time. The benefits of acupuncture for depression can start to be experienced as soon as the first treatment session.

One last note on treatment and the number of acupuncture sessions needed for depression. Even after you have seen and experienced the benefits of acupuncture for depression, you may continue to choose to attend acupuncture treatments to not only maintain the progress you may have noticed with depression but also to experience the many other benefits of acupuncture for overall health and wellness.

How Often do I Need to See an Acupuncturist for Depression?

The frequency you may need to see an acupuncturist for depression will depend on the treatment plan developed with the acupuncturist during your first session with them - it also depends on your comfort level. Here are three different frequency levels of acupuncture appointments that you may find useful when treating depression:

1. Twice a week

2. Bi-weekly

3. Once a month

As you continue and progress through acupuncture treatments, you may find yourself shifting the frequency of your acupuncture appointments based on the severity of your depression symptoms, and the progress you are experiencing.

What Does Acupuncture Cost for Depression?

The cost of acupuncture will depend on:

  1. Location

  2. Discounts

  3. Packages

  4. Cost per session

  5. The use of co-op community acupuncture clinics

The average cost per an acupuncture session can range from $75-$160. Depending on the frequency of treatment you find best meets your needs, you may find yourself spending $280 to $1200 for weekly or bi-weekly acupuncture treatment for depression. For more information, read: How Much Does Acupuncture Cost?

What Other Natural Treatments can I Try for Depression?

Not sure if acupuncture is the best choice for you? But still looking for a natural treatment option for depression? Here are five other holistic treatments to choose from:

  1. Hypnotherapy

  2. Yoga

  3. Meditation

  4. Emotional freedom techniques (EFT)

  5. Float therapy


Hopton A, MacPherson H, Keding A, et al Acupuncture, counseling or usual care for depression and comorbid pain: secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial BMJ Open 2014;4:e004964. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-004964. Retrieved from February 6, 2019, from

Mukaino, Y., Park, J., White, A., & Ernst, E. (2005). The Effectiveness of Acupuncture for Depression - a Systematic Review of Randomised Controlled Trials. Acupuncture in Medicine, 23(2), 70-76. doi:10.1136/aim.23.2.70. Retrieved February 6, 2019, from

Smith CA, Armour M, Lee MS, Wang LQ, Hay PJ. Acupuncture for depression. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2018, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD004046. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004046.pub4. Retrieved February 6, 2019, from

Wang, T., Deng, R., Tan, J. Y., & Guan, F. G. (2016). Acupoints Stimulation for Anxiety and Depression in Cancer Patients: A Quantitative Synthesis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2016, 5645632.Retrieved February 6, 2019, from