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Acupuncture Treatment Can Alternatively Help Standard Therapy for Depression

Depression and acupuncture treatment

Antidepressants are a key component in the treatment of depression. But for some people, medication is not enough.


According to a 2005 study, major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older, in any given year. (Archives of General Psychiatry, 2005 Jun; 62(6): 617-27)

Depression, of course, can occur in anyone but is more common in those facing serious illnesses. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 25% of cancer patients experience depression. Most patients are prescribed a form of antidepressant medication, which helps up to 80% of those who use them as directed.

But some patients aren’t able to tolerate the side effects of the medication, or are “non-compliant” for other reasons, such as financial factors.

New research from the University of York have found that acupuncture treatment can boost the effectiveness of the “standard” of care for depression. And thankfully, if done correctly, there are very few risks or side effects.

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Professor Hugh MacPherson studied 755 patients with depression in the North of England. He found that acupuncture combined with counseling significantly reduced the severity of depression and that the benefits were sustained for up to 12 months after treatment.

Professor MacPherson added: "Our new data provides a significant step forward in treating chronic pain and managing depression, because patients and health professionals can now make decisions on acupuncture with more confidence. Not only is it more cost effective, but it reduces pain levels and improves mood levels, which could reduce over reliance on drugs that can sometimes result in unwanted side effects."

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Journal Reference:
Hugh MacPherson, et al. Acupuncture for chronic pain and depression in primary care: a programme of research. Programme Grants for Applied Research, 2017; 5 (3): 1 DOI: 10.3310/pgfar05030

Additional Resources:
Archives of General Psychiatry, 2005 Jun; 62(6): 617-27
PubMed Health

Photo Credit:
By Judithcarlin - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons