Depression is more than an emotional experience, it also affects how our bodies feel. Common problems include insomnia, tiredness and digestive problems. Around 50% of people with depression also have chronic pain. Here are some examples of how depression might affect two of the body’s systems.

Central Nervous System

Depression often means feeling tired all the time. It can also mean having trouble sleeping, being irritable or angry, and losing interest in things that used to bring pleasure, including sex. Sometimes it involves a feeling of emptiness or hopelessness, perhaps with frequent episodes of crying. People who have depression might struggle to concentrate, or remember things, or make decisions. It may also be difficult to maintain a normal work schedule or fulfil social obligations. Depression can cause headaches, chronic body aches, and pain that does not respond to medication.

Digestive System

Depression can affect the appetite. Some people  overeat or binge, others lose their appetite or stop eating nutritious food. Eating problems can lead to stomachaches, cramps, constipation, or malnutrition. Symptoms do not always improve with medication.

Treatment options

Research at the University of York, led by York Clinic Director Hugh MacPherson, has found that acupuncture and counselling are beneficial in the treatment of depression[1], but acupuncture also has a marked impact by reducing chronic pain[2][3].

To book an appointment with an acupuncturist or counsellor at the York Clinic, phone 01904 709688 between 9am and 6pm or weekdays, or between 9am and 2pm on Saturdays. Alternatively, email us at, or use our contact form.  We will respond to you as quickly as possible.



[1] MacPherson H, Richmond S, Bland, Brealey S, Gabe R, et al. Acupuncture and Counselling for Depression in Primary Care: A randomised Controlled Trial. PLoS Medicine, 2013; 10(9): e1001518.[Free full text]


[2] Hopton A, MacPherson H, Keding A, Morley S. Acupuncture, counselling or usual care for depression and comorbid pain: secondary analysis of a randomised controlled trial. BMJ Open 2014;4(5):e004964. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-004964.[Free full text]


[3] Hopton A, Eldred J, MacPherson H. Patients’ experiences of acupuncture and counselling for depression and comorbid pain: a qualitative study nested within a randomised controlled trial. BMJ Open. 2014;4(6):e005144. [Free full text]