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Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Date:2/22/2010

In study, response rate almost 20 percent higher with depression-specific acupuncture

MONDAY, Feb. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Women who experience depression during pregnancy may have another treatment option, new research suggests.

The study found that women treated with depression-specific acupuncture had a 63 percent response rate compared to a 44 percent response rate in women treated with control acupuncture or massage.

"We tested acupuncture as a standalone treatment, and the results are very positive," said study author Rachel Manber, a professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine Sleep Medicine Center in Redwood City, Calif. But, she added, because this is the first study of its kind, and the acupuncture protocol used was specifically designed for this study, "you always need replication of the findings."

Dr. Shari Lusskin, director of reproductive psychiatry at the New York University Langone Medical Center, echoed that sentiment. "It's encouraging to see alternative treatments being studied in a scientific manner, and this study should generate further studies. It needs to be replicated on a larger scale," she noted.

"This is one treatment, and perhaps it will become another possible treatment tool in our therapeutic toolbox," said Lusskin. But, she cautioned that "acupuncture is not a substitute for the appropriate use of antidepressant therapy especially in women with a prior history of response to antidepressants."

As many as 20 percent of women may experience depression during pregnancy, according to the March of Dimes. Symptoms include sad, hopeless feelings that persist, generally for more than two weeks, Lusskin said. Women may also experience severe anxiety or feel disconnected from the baby. And, she cautioned, suicidal thoughts are never normal and are a sign that you should seek help.

Many women are cautious about using medications during pregnancy, rep
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