Traditionally, physicians treat depression with medication, counseling or a combination of the two. Now, however, a new study has revealed a different approach: Acupuncture, which researchers say equaled counseling in terms of helping relieve depression, reported Fox News on September 25.
After three months of acupuncture or counseling, one in three patients felt cured of depression, compared to one in five patients who did not receive treatment, according to the study results.
"For people who have depression, who have tried various medical options, who are still not getting the benefit they want, they should try acupuncture or counseling as options that are now known to be clinically effective," said Hugh MacPherson, the study's lead author from the University of York in the UK.
However, Dr. Philip Muskin, a psychiatrist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, recommended caution in interpreting the results, particularly with regard to medications.
"What this says is if you don't get completely better, there are other options," said Dr. Muskin. "One option would be to take a different medication, but by this study these would be valid options (referring to acupuncture and counseling)."
Dr. Muskin also noted that it's impossible to tell from the study indicators of what types of people get help from acupuncture versus counseling.
"What I can't tell from this study is who's who. Not everybody got better," he said.
And adding to Dr. Muskin's concern about the study: Some study participants were taking anti-depressants, while others were not. However, those taking the medication did not have to stop it.
But lead author Dr. MacPherson took a more positive approach to interpreting the results.
"We have provided evidence that acupuncture versus usual care and counseling 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," he said.