Acupuncture for the Treatment of Depression

The Medical Evidence and Supporting Studies

By Paul J.O'Brien
B.A., N.C.E.H.S., Dip. Acu., Adv. Dip. OBB, Cert Clin. Med. M.AFPA, M.ETCMA, M.C.Th.A.

Acupuncture for the Treatment of Depression is a fascinating and well researched topic that provides great hope for anyone suffering from Depression. If you’d like a better understanding of what Depression is and how Acupuncture and Depression are seen in Traditional Chinese Medicine click here - Acupuncture and Depression. In this article I will be focusing on Acupuncture for the Treatment of Depression and the recent important studies that support this treatment method.

In 1998 the National Institutes of Health conducted a 16 week study in relation to Acupuncture for the Treatment of Depression. The study which was funded by the NIH’s office of Alternative Medicine was conducted at the University of Arizona under the direction of John Allen PhD, and with the co-operation of Acupuncturist Rosa Schyner.

The 16 week trial was based on the treatment of 34 diagnosed clinically depressed women. The test was conducted using two treatment protocols, one using targeted and specific acupuncture points used in Acupuncture for the Treatment of Depression and a series of unrelated dummy points with no known function.

The group was divided in three with one receiving the Anti-Depression Acupuncture Treatment, the second group was given the dummy treatment and a final third group received no treatment and put on a waiting list for 8 weeks.

The results were remarkable. Published in the September 1998 issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the American Psychological Society, as “The Efficacy of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Major Depression in Women.”, they listed the following…

As a direct result of the Anti-Depression needling treatment the first group experienced a 43 percent reduction in their symptoms. When compared to the small 22 percent reduction experienced by the dummy group (this can be attributed to a natural placebo effect), this is an excellent indication of the benefits of Acupuncture for the Treatment of Depression. Furthermore more than half of the ladies no longer met the criteria for clinical depression.

Perhaps even more interesting is the drop rate. Only five people dropped out of the study – two because they moved away, one due to pregnancy and the final two just didn’t like needles. This is a far lower drop out rate then conventional medical drug treatments.

This study is by no means alone. In 2002 the World Health Organization released it’s findings and cited that Acupuncture for the Treatment of Depression was one of the most beneficial of treatments and was in fact MORE effective in depressive patients with decreased excretion than anti-depressant drugs such as 3-methyl-4-hydroxy-phenylglycol.

They sited several studies that supported this including;

Hou DF et al. [Clinical observation of therapeutic effect of baihui (GV20)-yintang (EX-HN3) electro-acupuncture in 30 cases of post-apoplectic depression.] Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion, 1996, 16(8):432-433 [in Chinese].

Li CD et al. Treating post-stroke depression with "antidepressive" acupuncture therapy: A clinical study of 21 cases. International Journal of Clinical Acupuncture, 1994, 5(4):389-393.

Yang X. Clinical observation of needling extrameridian points in treating mental depression. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 1994, 14:14-18.

Zhang B et al. A control study of clinical therapeutic effects of laser-acupuncture on depressive neurosis. World Journal of Acupuncture-Moxibustion, 1996, 6(2):12-17.

Luo HC et al. Electro-acupuncture vs amitriptyline in the treatment of depressive states. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 1985, 5(1):3-8.

Luo HC et al. [Clinical observation of electro-acupuncture on 133 patients with depression in comparison with tricyclic amytriptyline.] Chinese Journal of Integrated Traditional and Western Medicine, 1988, 8(2):77-80 [in Chinese].

So what are the benefits of Acupuncture for the Treatment of Depression?

In all the studies conducted several things were shown very clearly –

• A clear reduction in the symptoms of Clinical Depression

• More cost effective than pharmaceutical or drug based treatment

• No side effects

• Longer lasting results

• Treatment focused not just on alleviating the symptoms but on tackling and treating the underlying root cause.

There are many smaller benefits of Acupuncture when used to treat Depression but these would represent the principal points. If you’re interested in learning more about Acupuncture for the Treatment of Depression please feel free to contact me or make an appointment where we can discus any specific concerns or questions you may have.

Ready to get started? Great. Call my clinic at 087 901 9627 so we can discuss your needs and set up the first appointment.




You have been Reading about Acupuncture for the Treatment of Depression. To read Part 1 - Acupuncture and Depression Click Here.

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