Acupuncture and Depression during Pregnancy

Acupuncture is also used to treat depression during pregnancy.  Up to 10 percent of women will experience depression during pregnancy.  Women who are already predisposed to depression are at increased risks during pregnancy because of endocrine changes.  Untreated depression in pregnant women might lead to adverse effects for both mothers and infants.  Also, postpartum depression is more likely to occur if depression during pregnancy goes untreated. Depression that goes untreated may lead to poor maternal health behaviors, such as substance abuse; recklessness; poor eating, sleeping habits.  Also, there is evidence that depression in pregnancy is a risk factor for postpartum depression.

Antidepressant therapy is not recommended for pregnant women, because antidepressants may harm the fetus. Many pregnant women are reluctant to undergo pharmacological treatment for their depression because its side effects.  This is why many more women are turning toward acupuncture to treat depression during pregnancy.

A Stanford University study did show that women who responded to acupuncture treatment reported significantly less depression at 10 weeks postpartum.  Overall, 69 percent of the women responded to the acupuncture specific for depression, a rate comparable to the 50 percent to 70 percent response rates in clinical trials of standard depression treatments.  The study concluded that acupuncture holds promise as a safe and effective treatment of depression during pregnancy.

Acupuncture for Depression During Pregnancy.  A Randomized Controlled Trial

A total of 150 pregnant women who met Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fourth Edition) criteria for major depressive disorder were randomized to receive either acupuncture specific for depression or one of two active controls: control acupuncture or massage.  The short acupuncture protocol demonstrated symptom reduction and a response rate comparable to those observed in standard depression treatments of similar length and could be a viable treatment option for depression during pregnancy. (Obstetrics & Gynecology.  VOL. 115, NO. 3, MARCH 2010)