Is Acupuncture better than Pharmaceuticals for Depression

The Role of Drugs and Traditional Medicine

By Paul J.O’Brien
B.A., N.C.E.H.S., Dip. Acu., Cert Clin. Med. M.T.C.M.C.I., M.C.Th.A.

Is Acupuncture better than Pharmaceuticals for Depression? It’s a question I’m often asked in my clinic. And it’s a tough one to answer. It’s answer dependant on the nature of the Depression and the nature of the pharmaceuticals or drugs being prescribed.

You can learn more about Acupuncture and Depression here and about Acupuncture for the Treatment of Depression here. In these articles I cover in more detail the signs and symptoms of depression and how acupuncture can help, as well as provide details on the medical reports and scientific studies as to how effective Acupuncture and TCM really is. In this article however I will be focusing on the question, "Is Acupuncture better than Pharmaceuticals for Depression?"

One of the studies I mention comes from the World Health Organization and provides part of the answer to the question, “Is Acupuncture better than Pharmaceuticals for Depression”? The study by Luo HC et al. was entitled “Clinical observation of electro-acupuncture on 133 patients with depression in comparison with tricyclic amytriptyline.”, and published in the Chinese Journal of Integrated Traditional and Western Medicine, 1988, 8(2):77-80.

The study found that not only is Acupuncture comparable to amitriptyline for the treatment of depression but unsurprisingly had far fewer side effects. Furthermore the study found that acupuncture is more effective in depressive patients with decreased excretion of 3-methyl-4-hydroxy-phenylglycol. So at least in this respect, the question of “Is Acupuncture better than Pharmaceuticals for Depression” can be definitively answered – “YES”.

With that said the same study also found that conventional drug treatment, though it had more side effects had a greater result in cases with inhibition in the dexamethasone suppression test. This possibly illustrates that each treatment protocol affects the body differently.

Testimonial: Post-Natal Depression

I was 33 weeks pregnant and unable to sleep, I also suffered from heartburn and as a result was anxious and stressed. I had previously attended Paul and knew he was the solution. I felt immediate relief, felt relaxed with this natural treatment.

I looked forward to my weekly treatments – I would define them as a “treat”, the equivalent to a “Spa treatment” as I would come out rejuvenated and relaxed. I would definitely recommend him 100%.

These treatments have improved my life because I can now sleep better. I am enjoying my pregnancy again and looking forward to the impeding birth of my child in the next few weeks.

In future I would always consider acupuncture as a method to cure conditions that previously may not have chosen to explore with traditional medicinal options. I would highly recommend him to friends and family.

6 weeks ago I panicked and felt I was anxious and I could not eat at a critical stage of my pregnancy (33 weeks). I suffered from post natal depression after the birth of my 1st child and all of my symptoms were similar.

I knew acupuncture was a safe way to relieve the symptoms that I was feeling.

I contacted Paul immediately who reassured me that what I was feeling was normal, set up a session and within days I was feeling “human” and could sleep again.

6 sessions later I felt great, I am sleeping well and most importantly I am looking forward to the birth of my child.

I would highly recommend Paul O’Brien and acupuncture to anyone who is feeling like I was. I also consulted my GP and consultant who fully endorsed acupuncture as an aid/cure to assist me.

Thank you Paul!

Sinead, 38

Regardless of these studies however, it should be noted that conventional pharmaceutical treatment is an effective means of treating and controlling the symptoms of depression. Acupuncture can also effectively relieve the symptoms of depression, while at the same time focusing on the route cause of the problem. Combined together they often prove to be an excellent method of treatment with an excellent and improved success rate over any single treatment.

A question that is often asked when a patient comes to me for Depression treatment is they should stop taking their prescribed medication. I think it’s very VERY important that the patient is made aware that while I may be qualified in Western Clinical Medicine I am not a doctor and in no way entitled to alter or make suggestions regarding their prescribed medication. That’s between them and their prescribing physician.

The advice I would give is that both conventional treatment and acupuncture can work side by side. The drugs a patient has been prescribed will not interfere the work your acupuncturist would provide and a combined treatment can only be of greater benefit. If a practitioner advises you cease medication – I would strongly advise you to contact their membership association or regulatory body and double check their qualifications.

So is Acupuncture better than Pharmaceuticals for Depression? In some cases yes, in others no – what is clear is that both systems used in conjunction and co-operation provide an effective and complete treatment plan for resolving the symptoms of depression.

Finally, if you have any questions or concerns regarding Acupuncture for Depression or wish to start a course of treatment then please feel free to contact me or make an appointment where we can discuss any specific concerns or questions you may have.

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Call my clinic at 087 901 9627 so we can discuss your needs and set up the first appointment.

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