Depression is one of the most common forms of psychopathology. While it’s not clear exactly what causes it, as with many mental illnesses, there appear to be a variety of factors that play a role. What we do know is that it can be difficult to treat.
There are lots of drugs that increase serotonin to the brain, which can help. Sometimes tanning and mood-lights are used to increase vitamin D in the body. Cognitive therapy is also used in combination with counseling. Now recently a study found that acupuncture could be used as a depression treatment. According to an article by Reuters, a study found that “one in three patients were no longer depressed after three months of acupuncture or counseling, compared to one in five who received neither treatment”.
It shouldn’t be taken as conclusive that acupuncture cures depression. What this study is saying is that more research can and should be done regarding acupuncture as a depression treatment. It also gives doctors another tool in their box. If a person isn’t getting better from treatments that involves drugs or counseling, then acupuncture is another option for people to try.
The Huffington post offers additional details about the study. The study involved 302 patients who when to 12 weekly sessions of acupuncture in addition to their usual care for depression. Those researchers found that the people who did attend acupuncture compared to those who did not had lower average depression scores three months later compared to those who just received usual care. The article goes on to point out however that patients who received regular care scored the same as acupuncture patients after about nine months.
What that means is that the people who combined acupuncture along with other forms of depression treatment noticed the effects of their treatment an entire six months earlier than those who did receive acupuncture. It might not sound like a lot, but for a person who has depression, those six months will mean a world of difference. As I said earlier, depression feels like being locked in a cage. Who wouldn’t want to get out of jail six months earlier?
The verdict is still out on using acupuncture as a depression treatment. What we do know is that acupuncture when combined with conventional methods of depression treatment seems to accelerate the healing process. Since depression is extremely difficult to treat, this can provide an excellent benefit to both patients and care providers. It certainly won’t hurt a patient to try acupuncture, and if there is a chance to recover from depression sooner than later, acupuncture is well worth the time.