Acupuncture can relieve the baby blues

A study has found that acupuncture can relieve depression in pregnant women

Whether you believe in alternative therapy or not, you have to admit that the figures are convincing. Following a study of 150 women with depression, two thirds who had acupuncture reported a significant improvement in their symptoms.

The study, conducted by a team at Stanford University School of Medicine, discovered that pregnant women in particular responded well to the drug-free treatment, which involves inserting thin needles into various parts of the body to alleviate pain or for therapeutic reasons.

Doctors warn that depression in pregnancy can lead to serious complications if left untreated, usually because mums-to-be are concerned about taking drugs while carrying. Acupuncture is ideal because there’s no medicine involved.

Despite most people associating the baby blues with post-natal depression, 14% of pregnant women experience dark moods while carrying.

It is believed that hormones during pregnancy are to blame, plus overwhelming feelings of change and responsibility.

Lead author Dr Rachel Manber, professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences, says: ‘This standardised acupuncture protocol could be a viable treatment option for depression during pregnancy.

‘Because there is this concern about medicine among pregnant women and their physicians, it’s important to find an alternative.’

Co-author Dr Deidre Lyell, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynaecology, agrees. ‘Treatment of depression during pregnancy is critically important so that a woman can maintain her sense of wellbeing and take care of herself, her foetus and, someday, her child.

‘I hope that people will respect the rigorous methodology used in this blinded, randomized, controlled trial and accept the result: Traditional acupuncture was associated with a significant improvement in depression.’

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