Acupuncture and Depression
Acupuncture can help relieve symptoms of depression
A couple of recent studies have highlighted the benefit of acupuncture in the treatment of depression. It’s important to note that these studies looked at acupuncture in conjunction with ‘usual care’ (medications) and not as a replacement to regular treatment.
A recent study out of the University of York (UK) demonstrated that adding acupuncture or counseling to usual care (medications) created a significant reduction in depression stores for patients over usual care alone. This study indicated that taking an integrative approach to treatment is better then taking medication alone. There were no adverse effects from adding the acupuncture or counseling treatment.
Another study out of Sweden showed similar results. Patients were divided into groups based on conventional therapy alone, acupuncture, or integrative treatment (conventional therapy + acupuncture). Scores on the Hospital and Depression scale decreased significantly more in the acupuncture group and the integrative group versus the conventional treatment group. Measurements were done at four and eight weeks after treatment.
As the sunlight fades and the winter days get shorter and darker, I’ve been seeing an increase in patients with chronic depression who are reporting an increase in depressive symptoms. Patients with pre-existing depression may be more prone to a type of depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during the winters.
Seasonal Affective Disorder typically occurs around the same time each year-usually in the fall and winter. The onset is linked with the days becoming darker and shorter – i.e. periods of less sunlight. While there is no specific known cause of SAD, some theories point to drops in serotonin levels, melatonin levels and a disruption of our internal clock (circadian rhythm)- all due to the changes in sunlight exposure.
Let’s take a look at some natural remedies to help you cope with depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder.
BMC Complement Altern Med. 2013 Nov 7;13(1):308. [Epub ahead of print]. Effects of an integrative treatment, therapeutic acupuncture and conventional treatment in alleviating psychological distress in primary care patients – a pragmatic randomized controlled trial. Arvidsdotter T, Marklund B, Taft C.
Mayo Clin Proc. 2011 Nov; 86 (11): 1050-5. Association between low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin d and depression in a large sample of healthy adults: the cooper center longitudinal study. Hoang MT, Defina LF, Willis BL, Leonard DS, Weiner MF, Brown ES. Department of Psychiatry, UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, 5323 Harry Hines Blvd, MC 8849, Dallas, TX