Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond

http://www.pregnancy.com.au/pregnancy-information/pregnancy-problems/acupuncture-is-successful-in-reducing-depression-i.shtml

Acupuncture is Successful in Reducing Depression in Pregnancy

Acupuncture is Successful in Reducing Depression in Pregnancy - While many studies have explored the prevalence and treatment of postpartum depression, few have explored the treatment of depression in pregnancy.

Acupuncture for depression in pregnancy

Anyone who has experienced depression themselves, or watched helplessly as someone they love endures it, will attest that the affects of depression are far reaching and long lasting. While many studies have explored the prevalence and treatment of postpartum depression, few have explored the treatment of depression in pregnancy.

There is no doubt that treatment of depression in pregnancy brings with it a new layer of complexity. Between 1999 and 2003 the use of antidepressants during pregnancy doubled in the USA. However the use of pharmaceuticals for depression during pregnancy has increasingly raised concerns about the safety of the developing fetus. In addition pregnant women are often reluctant to take antidepressant medications, both out of fear for their unborn child and the social stigmas associated with depression and its treatment.

Hope for Sufferers

Overall, depression during pregnancy is under-detected and under-treated with few pregnant women attending the mental health treatment to which they have been referred. However a recently conducted randomised, controlled trial of acupuncture for the treatment of depression during pregnancy provides hope for the estimated 14% of pregnant women with suspected major depressive disorders.

While further research is warranted, this study provides cause for optimism in regards to the use of acupuncture as a viable alternative to pharmaceutical treatment of depression during pregnancy, with relatively few and mild side effects.

The Trial

Published in the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 2010, the trial encompassed 150 pregnant women between 12 and 30 weeks gestation, diagnosed with major depressive disorders. Of these women, 52 were randomised to acupuncture specific for depression, 49 to control acupuncture, and 49 to massage. The Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression was used to score women before commencement of the trial and at completion.

Treatments lasting approximately 25 minutes were provided two times per week for the first four weeks, and weekly thereafter for four more weeks. Acupuncture specific for depression was tailored individually, according to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, to address each participant’s depression-related patterns of disharmony. To ensure the reliability of results, providers were instructed to minimise verbal communication, refrain from providing counselling or advice, and avoid playing background music during the sessions.

Findings

Participants in the group receiving acupuncture specific for depression experienced a significantly greater reduction in Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression scores than the participants in the combined control interventions. The symptom reduction and response rate observed in the study is comparable to those observed in standard depression treatments of similar duration, but without the associated side-effects or concern for fetal safety.

While further research is warranted, this study provides cause for optimism in regards to the use of acupuncture as a viable alternative to pharmaceutical treatment of depression during pregnancy, with relatively few and mild side effects. 

Reference

Manber, R., Schnyer, R. N., Lyell, D., Chambers, A. S., Gress, J. L., Huang, M. I., Kalista, T., et al. (2010). Acupuncture for Depression During Pregnancy. Obsterics and Gynecology, 115(3), 511–520.

Published 28th January 2013