Acupuncture for Depression
A small study comparing outcomes for moderate to severe depression in three groups; standard care, counseling and acupuncture was published last this week in PLOS Medicine.
In this pragmatic randomised controlled trial conducted in the North of England, patients with depression were randomised to receive 12 weekly sessions of acupuncture plus usual care (302 patients), or 12 weekly sessions of counselling plus usual care (302 patients), or usual care alone (151 patients).
Both the acupuncture and the counseling groups resulted in significant improvement in depression scores over standard care alone. Improvements were stable at 3 months post treatment. All study groups continued with standard medical treatments such as antidepressants.
Commentary given considered the study as validating acupuncture as an evidence-based treatment for depression in an integrative environment.
A frequent side-benefit of acupuncture treatment for a variety of conditions is improved wellbeing. The study demonstrates this effect to be robust enough to improve moderate to severe depression scores. It seems reasonable to expect an even greater treatment effect in mild to moderate depression.
Clinically I have seen good success in managing bouts of mild to moderate depression combining acupuncture with an Albizzia based Chinese herbal formula.
Thomas Martin LAc.