Pricking Away Pain

Americans who suffer from depression have the choice of seeking psychotherapy, taking anti-depressant drugs or both. A team of Tucson researchers think they’ve found one more way to relieve the blues.

Rose, Depression Study Participant: “I didn’t want to get up in the mornings. I wasn’t myself, I just wasn’t myself. I knew something was wrong.”

When Rose was diagnosed with depression, she turned to acupuncture for relief. Rose is one of 36 women in a study that’s testing how well the ancient Chinese treatment works on depression.

Psychologist said: “What we’re up against is comparing it to two standard treatments for depression that are widely used. It’s a psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy and a variety of drug interventions.”

Psychologist found that out of the 24 women who received eight weeks of acupuncture, 73 percent showed improvement, and 65 percent had no more signs of depression. “Our dropout rate is actually less than that reported in studies of drug therapy and psychotherapy so that would lead me to believe that the side effects may be less intrusive.”

Research partner and acupuncturist says acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to successfully treat what Westerners call depression. In Chinese medicine, it is treated as an imbalance of energy.

Acupuncturist: “If you think of the body as a garden, and you think of the needles as openings in the irrigation system, that’s basically what you’re doing. You’re re-establishing a harmonious flow of the energy through the whole system.”

Doctors focused the study on women because they tend to suffer from depression two to three times more often than men.

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