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Acupuncture shown to be effective in treating depression during pregnancy


I've previously written about a bout of depression I experienced before the birth of my first daughter. My dark period, as I like to call it, wasn't that serious - nor, thankfully, did it develop into postpartum depression - but not everyone is so lucky: researchers believe up to 14 percent of pregnant women may suffer from major depressive disorder. As it turns out, and as shown by a Stanford study appearing in the March issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, some of these women might benefit from a popular type of tradition Chinese medicine:

For this study, the researchers recruited 150 women whose pregnancies were between 12 and 30 weeks gestation and who met the criteria for major depressive disorder. The women were randomized to receive one of three treatments: acupuncture specific for depression; control acupuncture, during which needles were inserted in points not known to help alleviate depressive symptoms; or massage...

[They] found that women who received the depression-specific acupuncture experienced a bigger reduction in depression symptoms than the women in the other groups. The response rate - defined as having a 50 percent or greater reduction in symptoms - was 63 percent for the women receiving depression-specific acupuncture, compared with 44 percent for the women in the other two treatment groups combined.

Our researchers told me they don't expect every pregnant woman with depression to seek out acupuncture based on these findings - nor would it would be appropriate for them to do so. (In some cases, antidepressants might still be the best course of action.) But their hope is that the results will raise awareness of the problem of depression during pregnancy and encourage patients and their physicians to consider acupuncture as a viable treatment option.

Photo by NYCTCM

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