Acupuncture helps with depression during pregnancy

Research Activities, August 2010, No. 360

For women who become depressed during pregnancy, acupuncture may offer a way to reduce symptoms in a safe and effective manner, suggests a new study. It found that women receiving 12 sessions of acupuncture treatment had good response rates and decreased severity of symptoms. The researchers enrolled 150 pregnant women who were diagnosed with major depressive disorder. The women were randomized to one of three groups. One group received acupuncture treatment specific for depression, while a second group received acupuncture that was not designed for depression. A third group received Swedish massage therapy. All groups received two 25-minute sessions each week for 4 weeks, followed by one session a week for another 4 weeks. All of the women were assessed for depressive symptoms at baseline and then after 4 and 8 weeks of treatment.

Women receiving acupuncture specific for depression had a significantly greater reduction in symptoms compared with the other two groups combined. The group who received 8 weeks of depression-specific acupuncture had a 53 percent reduction in depression scores and a 29 percent remission rate. This compares well with one study that reported a 52 percent reduction rate and a 19 percent remission rate after 16 weeks of psychotherapy. Women receiving acupuncture specific for depression also had a significantly greater response rate (63 percent), defined as at least 50 percent reduction in depressive symptom severity, compared with the other two groups combined (44.3 percent) or the non-depression-specific acupuncture group (37.5 percent).

There were no significant differences in symptom reduction or response rates between the massage and nonspecific acupuncture groups. The acupuncture treatment was well tolerated with relatively few side effects that were mild and transient. The study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS09988).

See "Acupuncture for depression during pregnancy," by Rachel Manber, Ph.D., Rosa N. Schnyer, D.A.O.M., Deirdre Lyell, M.D., and others in the March 2010 Obstetrics & Gynecology 115(3), pp. 511-520.

Current as of August 2010
Internet Citation: Acupuncture helps with depression during pregnancy: Research Activities, August 2010, No. 360. August 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://archive.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/aug10/0810RA6.html