4 Scientific Studies That Show the Effectiveness of Acupuncture in Treating Depression 

June 2nd, 2014
Benefits of Acupuncture

Acupuncture and Depression

Acupuncture has become an increasingly popular treatment for a wide variety of medical issues. From back pain to infertility and everything in between, people are now realizing the benefits of this safe and painless procedure.

Due to its popularity, scientific studies of acupuncture have become more common in recent years. There’s a growing body of research that shows just how effective acupuncture can be.

Here’s a recap of a few recent studies:

Acupuncture as good as counseling for depression

For this study, researchers recruited 755 people with moderate to severe depression. Participants were split up into 3 groups:

  1. 302 received 12 weekly acupuncture sessions
  2. 302 received weekly counseling sessions
  3. 151 received only their usual care

After 3 months, the participants who received acupuncture saw the most improvement (and those benefits remained for an additional 3 months after treatment stopped), followed closely by the participants who received counseling. Those who received neither treatment improved the least.

Link to study

Acupuncture is effective in treating depression both during and after pregnancy

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, postpartum depression affects about 1 in 7 mothers. And of those affected, 10 to 16% begin experiencing symptoms during pregnancy.

Researchers at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and Harvard Medical School summarized the existing evidence on acupuncture as a therapy for women with anxiety and depression (two of the studies they focused on included only pregnant women).

The researchers found “high-level evidence to support the use of acupuncture for treating major depressive disorder in pregnancy.” And what’s more, they found that acupuncture has no adverse effects in either the mothers or their infants.

Link to study

Acupuncture provides relief for depression-related insomnia

Insomnia and depression often go hand in hand. If you’re an insomniac, the lack of rest puts you at a greater risk for depression. And if you’re depressed, your sleep patterns may be horribly disrupted.

This study randomly divided 65 patients with insomnia into two groups: an acupuncture group and a Western medication group (oral Trazodone). After 4 weeks of treatment, the cured/markedly effective rate in the acupuncture group was far superior to that of the medication group (73% vs. 47%).

The studied concluded that acupuncture treatment is superior to Trazodone for sleep quality and daytime function, and has milder side effects.

Link to study

As a standalone therapy, acupuncture is quite effective in treating mild to moderate depression

This study, published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, is a compilation of data from several different studies that discussed the success rate of acupuncture at treating the symptoms of mild to moderate depression.

After putting these studies together, researchers found that no matter your age, acupuncture is as effective, if not more effective, as antidepressant medication. And as a bonus, when acupuncture is used side-by-side with antidepressants, acupuncture may lessen many of the medication’s side effects.

link to study

If you’re suffering from depression and would like to experience firsthand the benefits of acupuncture, don’t hesitate to contact us! You can call or email usstop by our office in downtown Victoria BC, or book an appointment online with one of our registered acupuncturists.