(NaturalNews) Acupuncture relives the symptoms of depression during pregnancy better than a placebo and potentially as well as pharmaceutical antidepressants, according to a study conducted by researchers from Stanford University and published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.
"Acupuncture that we have tested works for pregnant, depressed women," researcher Rachel Manber said.
The researchers randomly assigned 150 pregnant women who were suffering from clinical depression to receive either massage, acupuncture designed to treat depression, or acupuncture not designed for depression. After eight weeks of treatment, 63 percent of participants in the acupuncture-for-depression group had experienced an improvement in their symptoms, compared with 44 percent of women in the other two groups.
Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that involves inserting needles into certain key parts of the body to treat various health conditions.
The study did not compare acupuncture to antidepressants or psychotherapy, but the success rate of acupuncture in the current study was similar to that of other therapies in studies of men and non-pregnant women, the researchers noted. They said further research is needed to make these comparisons directly.
Approximately 14 percent of women become depressed at some point during pregnancy. In addition to the damaging effects of depression and the risk it might pose to mother or infant, depression during pregnancy is also a risk factor for postpartum depression, which occurs at similar rates.
Postpartum depression may lead to inconsistent childcare, problems with mother-infant bonding, reduced birth weight, and hampered emotional or cognitive development in the child.
Yet many women are reluctant to take antidepressant drugs during pregnancy for fear of harming their unborn children.
"Antidepressants are not an attractive option for many women," Manber said. "Many women are concerned about using antidepressant medication during pregnancy."
Antidepressant exposure in utero has been linked with an increased risk of health problems including persistent pulmonary hypertension.
Sources for this story include: online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704454304575081753471294546.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsTop.