A large UK multi-centre, randomised controlled trial has shown that adding either acupuncture or counselling to usual care, can hasten improvements in patients with moderate to severe depression. A total of 755 such patients were recruited from 27 GP practices across northern England, and randomised to one of three groups: acupuncture (302 patients), counselling (302 patients), or usual care alone (151 patients). Over a three month period, patients attended a mean of ten acupuncture sessions or nine counselling sessions. Patients were followed up over twelve months. Usual care, including antidepressants, was available to all three groups.
Compared with usual care alone, both acupuncture and counselling gave significantly greater reductions in depression scores, at both three and twelve months. Antidepressants fail to work in more than half of patients, and many patients would like to be offered drug-free treatment options.
(Acupuncture and counselling for depression in primary care: a randomised controlled trial. PLoS Medicine, 24 September 2013.)