Acupuncture may offer a drug-free alternative for treating depression in pregnant women, researchers have found.  A study found that more pregnant women with depression benefited from acupuncture than those who had a sham treatment with needles or an ordinary massage.  Two thirds who had the genuine acupuncture reported a significant improvement in their symptoms, compared with less than half of those who had the other treatments.

The study of 150 women with depression was conducted by a team at Stanford University in California and is published in the Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology.  The approach may be particularly beneficial because depression in pregnancy can cause serious complications if untreated and yet women are reluctant to take drugs while carrying their child.  Prof Rachel Manber, the lead author, said: “This standardised acupuncture protocol could be a viable treatment option for depression during pregnancy.  “Because there is this concern about medication among pregnant women and their physicians, it’s important to find an alternative.”

Around 14 per cent of pregnant women may have depression and the condition is less well recognised than post-natal depression.  It is thought the extra hormones during pregnancy may play a role in causing the condition or women may feel overwhelmed by the major changes they are undergoing.

The Daily Telegraph, Tuesday 23rd February 2010

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