Acupuncture Eases Depression in Pregnancy
Study Shows Acupuncture May Be Alternative to Antidepressants for Pregnant Women
WebMD News Archive
Feb. 22, 2010 -- Acupuncture may be an effective way to reduce depression
during pregnancy, a new study shows.
Many pregnant women who have symptoms of depression worry that taking
antidepressants might harm their unborn babies -- so they stop taking their
medications, say researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
Acupuncture might be a useful alternative, they say, because a study of
pregnant women shows that the procedure works in reducing depressive symptoms
better than other non-pharmacological techniques.
The study included 150 pregnant women diagnosed with major depressive
disorder. Some received depression-specific acupuncture treatments, others had
needles inserted in acupuncture points not known to relieve depression, and a
third group received massage therapy.
All of the women received therapy for eight weeks and were interviewed at
the four- and eight-week marks by someone who did not know which treatment they
The researchers say 63% of the women who received depression-specific
acupuncture reported a significant reduction in symptoms, compared to 44% of
women in the other two groups combined. Remission rates were not
significantly lower in the depression-specific acupuncture group compared to
the other two groups.
"I hope that people will respect the rigorous methodology used in this
blinded, randomized, controlled trial and accept the result," study researcher
Deirdre Lyell, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford
University School of Medicine, says in a news release.
Given that so many depressed women are reluctant to take antidepressants
during pregnancy, "it's important to find an alternative," study researcher
Rachel Manber, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at
Stanford, says in the news release.
Lyell says treatment of depression during pregnancy "is critically important
so that a woman can maintain her sense of well-being and take good care of
herself, her fetus, and someday, her child."
The researchers say up to 14% of pregnant women may suffer from
The study is published in the March issue of Obstetrics &