Acupuncture Can Help with Post-Partum Depression

acupunctureIn a recent article published last month in the Journal of Acupuncture and Tuina Science, researchers found that acupuncture and psychological counseling were as effective as a control group receiving fluoxetine hydrochloride (Prozac).

Post-Partum depression is a common condition that can affect women after pregnancy and those affected can have mood swings, frequently be unhappy, have trouble sleeping either not enough or too much, coordination problems, suicidal thoughts, trouble thinking clearly, low sex drive, feelings of exhaustion and fatigue, low appetite, low self-esteem, anger, irritability and a lack of desire to bond with the new baby.

In traditional Chinese medicine depression is thought to be caused by what is termed Qi and Blood Deficiency and sometimes Liver Qi Stagnation. Essentially, the loss of blood, and nutrients as well as the huge changes in hormones and the shifting gears that a woman’s body must go through to transition from pregnant to not pregnant can result in a lack of nourishment to the body’s organs and tissues. Chinese medicine holds that the mind and body are an integrated whole so if something effects the body it will also affect the mind, this huge bodily deficiency and change can result in feelings of depression, fatigue, lack of appetite, chest tightness, as well as anger, irritability and mood swings.

In the study, researchers randomly assigned a group of 85 women with post-partum depression into either the experimental treatment acupuncture group or the control group that was treated with fluoxetine hydrochloride. Both groups received treatment for six weeks and were evaluated before and after using the Hamilton Depression Scale (HAMD). The experimental group received acupuncture five times a week all utilizing the same set of points, with two sets of extra points utilized for cases of either an excessive or deficient condition, combined with psychological counseling. The experimental group had an effective rate of 90.7% and observed no adverse side effects. The control group received 20mg of fluoxetine hydrochloride orally for 6 weeks and had a 90.5% effective rate but with the observed side effects of nausea, dizziness, and a lack of appetite. Based on the data, the researchers concluded that acupuncture and psychological counseling was as effective as the standard treatment of fluoxetine hydrochloride but without any adverse effects.

Depression can be a very scary thing for both the person that has it as well as the friends and family members that surround the person. The problem is also worsened by the social stigma of mental illness and a refusal by a large part of the population to even acknowledge that a person has a problem and is not “lazy” or “just needs to get over it” as I have heard from many patients.

Chinese medicine has a long history of effectively treating women during all stages of pre, during, and post pregnancy and the first specialists in Chinese medicine were in obstetricians, meaning that there is a long history of treatment methods for almost any complication that can occur during pregnancy. In the same vein, the connection between the mind and the body and the effects of mental states on health is also a long established tenet of Chinese medicine with a long history of effective treatment.

As I say with all of these articles, while this is just one study, it is another study in a long line of research and effective treatment that Chinese medicine, acupuncture, and Chinese herbal medicine is capable of.

If you have any questions about utilizing Chinese medicine for depression, whatever the cause, or any other mental health issue, feel free to email or call me, I would love to talk with you and do what I can to help!

Check out the original article here.

Check out the study abstract here.


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Christopher Shiflett L.Ac  M.S. TCM, Dipl. O.M. (NCCAOM)

Christopher Shiflett L.Ac M.S. TCM, Dipl. O.M. (NCCAOM)

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