Acupuncture or counseling, provided alongside usual care, could benefit patients with depression, a recent study has revealed. The study was conducted by researchers at the University of York, and results were very interesting to the medical community. Accoring to The Huffington Post, researchers found that the combination of acupuncture or counseling with usual care had some benefits after three months for patients with recurring depression.
While the news may great for patients who are receptive to unconventional therapies, scientists were quick to point out there is encouraging, but limited evidence to support the use of acupuncture or counseling for depression.
The research team randomly selected patients who currently battle depression to receive 12 weekly sessions of acupuncture plus usual care (302 patients), or 12 weekly sessions of counseling plus usual care (302 patients), or usual care alone (151 patients). The groups that received acupuncture and counseling showed a significant reduction in average depression scores at three months, compared with usual care alone.
However, there was no significant difference in depression scores between the acupuncture and counseling groups. At 9 months and 12 months, because of improvements in the depression scores in the usual care group, acupuncture and counseling were no longer scored better than usual care.
Lead author of the study, Dr. Hugh MacPherson, said in a statement: "Although these findings are encouraging, our study does not identify which aspects of acupuncture and counseling are likely to be most beneficial to patients, nor does it provide information about the effectiveness of acupuncture or counseling, compared with usual care, for patients with mild depression."
Dr MacPherson added, "To our knowledge, our study is the first to rigorously evaluate the clinical and economic impact of acupuncture and counselling for patients in primary care who are representative of those who continue to experience depression in primary care. We have provided evidence that acupuncture versus usual care and counselling versus usual care are both associated with a significant reduction in symptoms of depression in the short to medium term, and are not associated with serious adverse events. "
The study was published this week in PLOS Medicine.
Image via ThinkStock