Acupuncture & Counselling Hasten Results in Depression Treatment

Research from the UK: acupuncture and counselling hasten results in depression treatmentA 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.)

Acupuncture can help with Sexual Side-Effects of Antidepressants

Research from Canada: sexual side-effects of antidepressant medication.Researchers in Toronto, Canada have found in a pilot study, that acupuncture has a potential role in helping with the unwanted sexual side-effects of antidepressant medication. These drugs, including the so-called SSRIs introduced in more recent years (citalopram, cipramil, fluoxetine, Prozac, Seroxat) are known to cause sexual dysfunction such as loss of libido and impotence in 50 to 90% of users.

A group of patients experiencing such symptoms were given a traditional Chinese medical assessment, and then treated with acupuncture over a twelve week period. Participants were asked to complete weekly questionnaires. Women reported a significant improvement in libido and lubrication, with small trends towards improvement in several other areas. Men reported significant improvements in all areas of sexual functioning, plus reductions in anxiety and depression.

(Efficacy of Acupuncture Treatment of Sexual Dysfunction Secondary to Antidepressants. Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 19 November 2013.)

Acupuncture is More Effective for Depression than Usual Care Alone

Acupuncture is more effective for depression than usual care alone.

Researchers at the University of York conducting a randomised trial of 755 patients, have found that acupuncture plus usual care is significantly more effective for depression, compared with usual care alone.

Patients were recruited from 27 North of England GP practices, all having consulted their GP for moderate-to-severe depression in the preceding five years. They were randomised to receive up to 12 weekly sessions of acupuncture plus usual care (302 patients), up to 12 weekly sessions of counselling plus usual care (302 patients), or usual care alone (151 patients). Usual care, including anti-depressants, was available according to need, and monitored in all three groups; at the outset, 69% of patients were taking anti-depressants, and nearly half were taking painkillers.

Compared to usual care alone, there was a significant improvement in symptoms at both 3 and 6 months for both the acupuncture and counselling interventions. Painkiller use by the acupuncture group showed a particularly marked decrease during the trial, but this was not sustained at follow-up.

(Acupuncture and Counselling for Depression in Primary Care: A Randomised Controlled Trial. PLOS Medicine, September 2013.

Acupuncture Improves Effect of Anti-Depressants

Acupuncture improves effect of anti-depressants.

A randomized, controlled trial carried out by Chinese researchers, suggests acupuncture can both speed up response to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and prevent symptom aggravation, in patients with major depressive disorder. Examples of SSRIs include citalopram, fluoxetine, prozac and sertraline.

In the six week study plus four week follow-up, 160 patients were randomly allocated to receive either paroxetine alone, or paroxetine plus 18 sessions of manual or electro-acupuncture. From weeks one to six, the addition of either form of acupuncture produced significantly greater reductions in depression scores at most time points compared with the drug alone: clinical response rates rose to 70% with acupuncture, versus 42% for paroxetine alone. The proportion of patients requiring an increased drug dose due to symptom aggravation, ranged from 6 to 9% for acupuncture, compared with 23% for paroxetine alone. Four weeks after completion of acupuncture treatment, patients in the electro-acupuncture group continued to exhibit significantly greater clinical improvement, suggesting a long-lasting enhancement of the drug’s effects.

(A 6-Week Randomized Controlled Trial with 4-Week Follow-Up of Acupuncture Combined with Paroxetinein Patients with Major Depressive Disorder. Journal of Psychiatric Research, June 2013)

Acupuncture for Depression

Research into acupuncture and depression from America.

A pilot study carried out in America looking at acupuncture for depression, has found it to be a safe, well-tolerated and effective treatment for patients with major depressive disorder (MDD).

Thirty outpatients with MDD (73% female and mean age 47), received acupuncture for eight weeks, either once or twice a week depending on their preference. Depression scores decreased from 19.1 to 9.9 in the once-weekly group, and from 21.9 to 14.3 in the twice-weekly group. The researchers say the results suggest acupuncture has good feasibility in outpatient settings, and that a full controlled trial is warranted.

(A Pilot Study of Acupuncture Monotherapy in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, accepted March 2012.)