Piercing for depression (Picking facts & poking myths)

In this article, we will talk about piercings for depression. We will get to know if there is any logic behind using piercings to help with depression, what kind of piercings are considered helpful and why. We will also find other ways in which one can tackle depressive symptoms. 

Is piercing for depression helpful?  

The efficiency of using piercings for recovery from depression is questionable and subjective. For some people, it works but others do not find it beneficial. Scientifically, piercings have less or no backings in the treatment of depression. But, anecdotal shreds of evidence are available where people report improvement in their condition after getting piercing/s.   

When it comes to depression, it is believed that having an ear piercing that passes through the vagus nerve helps. The vagus nerve is the longest nerve among the other 9 nerves originating from the bottom of the brain and radiating to the rest of the body. 

The name of the piercing that passes through the vagus nerve is Daith. Daith piercing has been largely used for conditions like depression and epilepsy, although research is still being done to scientifically prove its efficiency. Daith piercings can be painful and might take longer to heal than other piercings. Other ear piercings that are considered helpful for depression are Shen Men, Lobe, Helix, Tragus, Rook, Conch piercings.    

There have been opposing views on the efficiency of piercings as treatment methods where people say that acupuncture and piercings are all placebo healings. Acupuncture has scientifically proven to help anxiety attacks, pains, and fatigue.  

To know more about the belief behind using ear piercings for mental health concerns, read further!

What are auricular acupuncture and auriculotherapy?

The Chinese practice of body acupuncture promotes stimulating the ears and the area around the ears to alleviate the person’s physical, mental, and emotional distresses. Auricular acupuncture makes use of needles for stimulation whereas, auriculotherapy does not use needles in its treatment. In these methods of alternative medicine, the core belief is that the ear is a microsystem on its own with specific points on it that are connected to specific organs and functions. 

The original Chinese charts were developed into a more comprehensive system by Dr. Paul Nogier in the 1950s. Through his work, he attempted to prove that the ear is a micro-map of the entire body which meant all parts of the body could be treated by accessing the external ear. Believers also state that the reason this therapy works is that our ears have numerous nerve endings that connect to the hormonal parts of the brain that helps in emotional and mental suffering and the other organs in the body from which physical distress may be radiating.  

An auriculotherapist stimulates, by pokes or presses, the points based on the person’s concerns. They follow a map that tells them which point is beneficial for what problem. The points, called nogier points, claims that various points located on the ear lobe are related to the head and facial region, those on the scapha are related to the upper limbs, those on the antihelix and antihelix crura to the trunk and lower limbs and those in the concha are related to the internal organs.  

There are not many scientific studies that prove the efficiency of auriculotherapy therefore it is believed to be fringe medicine or pseudoscience.      

What is done in auriculotherapy?

The therapist first locates the point on the ear which is to be stimulated for the person’s health concern. After locating, the treatment is done using methods like ear seeds, laser stimulation, and mild electrical stimulations. 

Ear seeds are seeds, beads, or pellets that are pasted on the surface of the ears using an adhesive. Traditionally, the seeds from a plant called Vaccaria were used but currently, self-adhesive metal or ceramic beads are commonly used. 

Electrical stimulation involves the electrical detection of active points for precise treatment. It uses a very mild electrical current passed between needles that stimulate the point. The patient might feel a slight heaviness or electrical sensation while receiving the treatment. 

There is generally no side effect of auriculotherapy and can be done by people of all ages. It also is a non-invasive method of healing.    

Some guidelines before considering acupuncture or piercing as a treatment for depression

Educate yourself 

Be aware of the ideology behind the piercing or the treatment, the methods used, the rate of efficiency, potential side effects if any, etc. Only if it resonates with you and you really wish and believe it could be helpful, you should give it a try.  Alternate forms of therapy are often considered as complementary modes of healing in addition to psychotherapy or pharmacotherapy. Ask experts about all your inhibitions and other people who have undergone piercings or acupuncture about their experiences.  

Take help only from an authorized piercer/therapist

Make sure the person you are seeking help from is authorized to practice the therapy or do piercings. In  alternative practices of healing, there could be many people who are not sufficiently trained or informally trained or people who own bogus certificates. Lack of qualification could lead to unnecessary and avoidable concerns. 

Make sure hygiene is maintained 

It is important that all equipment used for the treatment be sterile and fresh. Using infected needles, seeds, etc can invite unwanted trouble. Make sure that the equipment is newly opened in front of you. Also, make sure the therapist or other helpers around the therapist are wearing gloves while handling the equipment and while touching your ears. Infection-causing germs can be transferred from the hands to the ears if gloves are not worn.    

What are some other ways to tackle depression?

There are many other forms of alternative therapies or healing modalities that are prevalent today. Some therapies that are popularly undertaken are Reflexology, Homeopathy/ Bach flower remedies, Crystal healing, Aura cleansing, Chiropractic, Chromotherapy, Access Bars Therapy, Cupping therapy, Mind-body interventions like Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates, etc. 

Most of these healing methods believe in holistic healing where the role of energy-based healing is given a lot of emphases. It might be confusing for people to understand how they work because energy is intangible therefore there could be many questions that can arise in the person’s mind. It is ideal to get rid of apprehensions before deciding to approach these therapies.   

Most often they are undertaken in addition to scientifically backed-up treatment modalities like psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy. So, consult a counselor and a psychiatrist, take help from them, and also inform them that you are trying out additional methods from other therapists for your recovery. 

Seek social support by joining a support group 

Feeling understood means a lot to people when they are in a deep pit of depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Support groups exist for a number of causes like depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc. Support groups are beneficial for people because the feeling of belongingness and oneness in suffering boosts confidence in recovery. People seek inspiration from other survivors and people in the same boat. 

Consult a psychiatrist 

A psychiatrist can prescribe medication, for example, antidepressants based on the severity of the condition of the person. Antidepressants are an important part of recovery and going to a professional should not be delayed. 

Seek mental health therapy 

Consulting a counselor/ psychotherapist is essential in mental health issues. This, most often, goes hand in hand with medication based on the severity of depression. 

A counselor can bring in newer ways of perception, help the person to emote better while engaging in healthy boundary-making. The counselor can also help the person eradicate irrational thoughts and beliefs that inhibit the person’s well-being. The counselor and the client, together, also work on and construct healthier coping mechanisms against stressors for the client. 

Improve lifestyle choices and work towards good health

During the job search, one can easily neglect their health. Health is a concept with many interlinkages and it is also all-encompassing. One can’t expect to have good mental health if their physical health is deteriorating and vice-versa. Exercising, healthy eating habits, good sound sleep, and practicing mindfulness, along with any medication/therapy if need be, can help attain victory over any condition, including depression.


In this article, we talked about piercings for depression. We got to know if there is any logic behind using piercings to help with depression, what kind of piercings are considered helpful and why. We also found other ways in which one can tackle depressive symptoms. 

Frequently Asked Questions: piercing for depression

How long has it been since auriculotherapy has been practiced?

The practice has its roots in Asia and has been used for over 2000 years. The European countries have been using it for the past 60-70 years whereas the USA has very recently considered the use of this alternate form of medicine and healing.   

Is auriculotherapy or auricular acupuncture accepted by conventional medicine doctors?

Most, conventional medicine doctors or practitioners of western medicine are not well aware of the alternative treatment modalities to make an informed suggestion or give a piece of advice. With increasing researchers happening in the field of alternative medicines and healing, more western medicine prescribing doctors are becoming open to the idea that there could be other ways of healing that could work for illnesses.

What health concerns can auriculotherapy help with?

Almost all health conditions can be treated to some extent by accessing and stimulating the points on the ears. Most commonly auriculotherapy has helped people with control of chronic pain, detoxification from addictive drugs, defects with vision, relief of nausea, and reduction of hypertension, anxiety, depression, etc.

Can these practices be done by the person on themselves?

While doing piercings by oneself is common, it is ideal to seek help from someone who is trained to do so and has the proper equipment to do the piercings. Darth piercing is also a more complex type of piercing as it involves piercing through the thickest ear cartilage. 
For auriculotherapy, the most commonly used method of treatment is electrical stimulation which requires a trained professional to know the exact points and the use of the electrically powered equipment. The amount of pressure placed on the relevant points can either help the person in relieving the symptom or it can worsen the condition if done incorrectly. 

How long do the benefits of auriculotherapy last?

Mild to moderate benefits are often experienced after the first session and the intensity of the benefits increases a few hours after that session. The benefits may become less intense a few days or weeks after the first session which can be rectified with a follow-up session with the auriculotherapist.  

How long is a typical auriculotherapy session?

Usually, the session takes about 20 to 30 minutes.  




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