Dr Andrew Weil, MD discusses the research on effective methods for treating depression. You can find other articles about treating depression on his website.
Acupuncture for Depression
Antidepressants used in conjunction with acupuncture worked better than medication alone in a newly published study from the U.K.’s University of York. Investigators there also tested counseling combined with antidepressants, which they found worked as well asacupuncture and drugs.
The researchers randomized a group of 755 men and women being treated with antidepressants for moderate to severe depression to receive either 12 weekly acupuncture sessions, 12 weekly counseling sessions or the medication alone. After three months, the team reported a “significant reduction” in average depression scores for patients who underwent acupuncture or counseling in addition to antidepressants compared to the group that received medication as the only treatment. Improvements in the acupuncture and counseling groups continued to be observed for up to six months, but at nine and 12 months there were no further gains in scores indicating recovery from depression among these patients. The study was designed to evaluate how effective acupuncture and counseling would be for patients with moderate to severe depression who remained in primary care.
My take? I’m not surprised that acupuncture worked well for some of the patients in this study – the World Health Organization has recognized it as an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression. While not addressed by the U.K. study, I believe that there is no better therapy than regular aerobic exercise for more immediate, symptomatic treatment of mild to moderate depression. Many studies have demonstrated the efficacy of a daily workout for improving emotional health and boosting self-confidence. For best results, I recommend 30 minutes of continuous activity at least five days a week.