Depression is one of the leading disorders in America today and is the reason our media is permeated with advertisements for one anti-depressant or another. Its difficult, if not impossible, to get through a single evening of television without seeing babies crying and Mommys who are too down to move or little cartoon stick figures selling Americans yet another medication for depression. Is that and psychotherapy the only treatment for depression? No. Recently, studies have connected the health benefits of acupuncture with depression.
Drugs versus Acupuncture and Depression:
As widespread a problem as depression is in the United States, the treatments are not the panacea that many hope they will be after that first trip to the pharmacy. In fact, roughly half of the people who seek help for this disorder actually receive that help through drugs or psychotherapy alone. For 3000 years, traditional Chinese medical practitioners have treated everything from headaches to menopause with acupuncture.
Is it possible, then, to treat depression with acupuncture? Studies have recently shown that it is possible to connect depression and acupuncture, and with benefits that include low cost and minimal side effects. Unlike drugs and expensive psychotherapy sessions that take tremendous time and money, acupuncture lasts an up to hour and may be obtained at a fraction of the cost. Additionally, the side effects of acupuncture with sterilized needles are limited to such minor issues as a potential bruise here and there.
A Case Study:
In 1998, researchers at the University of Arizona conducted a double-blind study of the effectiveness of acupuncture on depression. The results demonstrated a dramatic decrease in symptoms in more than half of the women tested. More specifically, seventy percent of the women in the study experienced a fifty percent reduction in noticeable symptoms of depression.1
The study lasted for two months. During this time, each patient was given twelve acupuncture sessions with the bulk of them received during the first month of treatment. The patients were assigned to one of three groups. The first received immediate acupuncture for depression. The second group received acupuncture treatment for non-specific reasons, and the third group was wait-listed for eight weeks then treated with acupuncture for depression.
While the test group for this study was too small to be considered ground-breaking medically, it is certainly worth considering for anyone who suffers from debilitating depression. For some people acupuncture and depression may well be the key to unlocking the chains that bind them to medications that have been linked to everything from incontinence to suicide.