A new study that will be published in the March issue of “Obstetrics and Gynecology” suggests that acupuncture could help fight depression during and after pregnancy.
Researchers at Stanford University in California followed several pregnant women who had or were suffering from depression for an eight-week study. The women were divided into three groups, one receiving massage therapy while the other two groups received some form of acupuncture. After eight weeks of treatment, the women were tested to see what their symptoms of depression were. The researchers found that the group who had received acupuncture treatments already tested for depression showed the greatest reduction in pregnancy depression.
“We found 63 percent of the women who received the acupuncture for depression ended up responding to treatment, which is really at the high end of response rates for treatment for depression in outpatients,” stated Rachel Manber, a Stanford University psychiatry professor.
Depression during pregnancy poses an additional risk as many women cannot or chose not to take medications that may harm the fetus. This can extend after pregnancy if the mothers choose to breastfeed. Finding a safe alternative that could be used along side psychological counseling was very important. Acupuncture is relatively safe during pregnancy. Many women already use acupuncture treatments for physical conditions such as nausea or pain.
Acupuncture is sometimes used as a treatment for depression in non-pregnant people. A similar study was done in 2001 at the University of Arizona using acupuncture for depression in women, with promising results. Professor Manber wanted to test if it would also be effective during pregnancy as well. – Summer, staff writer
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