Researchers from Stanford University, in California report it reduced symptoms.

First, the details.

  • 150 pregnant women with major depressive disorder were randomly assigned to a treatment group for 8 weeks (12 sessions).
    • Acupuncture specific for depression
    • Control acupuncture
    • Massage
  • Junior acupuncturists, who were not told about the treatment assignment, needled participants at points prescribed by senior acupuncturists.
  • All treatments were standardized.
  • The Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression was administered by masked raters at the start and after 4 and 8 weeks of treatment.

And, the results.

  • Women who received acupuncture for depression experienced a significantly greater decrease in symptom severity compared to the other groups.
  • They also had significantly greater response rate vs the other groups.
  • There was no difference in symptom reduction and response in the control and massage groups.

The bottom line?

The short acupuncture protocol provided a reduction in symptoms reduction.

The authors tell us that the response rate was “comparable to those observed in standard depression treatments of similar length and could be a viable treatment option for depression during pregnancy.”

These study results differ from the findings in a Cochrane review published 2 years ago where the authors concluded, “The evidence is inconclusive to allow us to make any recommendations for massage therapy or depression-specific acupuncture for the treatment of antenatal (during pregnancy) depression.”

3/17/10 21:07 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.