Acupuncture Helps Depression, Study Says

Researchers from Harvard found that acupuncture helped treat depression during pregnancy.

Acupuncture photo via Shutterstock

Acupuncture photo via Shutterstock

A new study by researchers at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and Harvard Medical School, published in the journal Medical Acupuncture, found “high-level evidence to support the use of acupuncture for treating major depressive disorder in pregnancy.”

The study says that anxiety and depression are very common in the female population. In fact, there are almost twice as many cases of anxiety and depression among women than men. Anxiety and depression are notoriously difficult to treat, have high rates of relapse, and commonly come with medication side-effects, so researchers studied acupuncture’s effectiveness at treating the elusive disorders. After randomized controlled trials, acupuncture was found to be an effective treatment for both anxiety and depression in pregnant women.

This is hardly news to Meredith St. John, vice president and academic dean at the New England School of Acupuncture (NESA) in Newton, the oldest acupuncture school in the country. St. John says that acupuncture is effective in treating many “women’s health disorders” and that fertility in general is a hot area for acupuncture research. “There is some evidence that if you combine acupuncture with IVF treatments, there is a higher likelihood of achieving pregnancy,” she says.

Pain is the number one reason why people seek acupuncture treatment, St. John says. “Pain associated with osteoarthritis, low back pain, and headache pain from tension headache or migraine,” she says. “Those are some of the conditions for which acupuncture has been very well studied.”

NESA teamed up with Tufts University School of Medicine for a joint master’s program. The speciality program for treating pain is a dual master’s degree program which bridges Eastern and Western medicines’ approaches to pain. “Pain is a complex problem and needs to be treated by a team,” St. John says. “It’s an innovative program and a response to an enormous public health program.”