Acupuncture, Counseling Improve Depression Symptoms

Both interventions reduce depression at three months better than usual care

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Acupuncture and counseling both significantly reduce depression symptoms, compared to usual care alone, according to a study published online Sept. 24 in PLOS Medicine.

Hugh MacPherson, Ph.D., from the University of York in the United Kingdom, and colleagues recruited 755 patients with depression (Beck Depression Inventory-II score ≥20) from primary care practices and randomized them to one of three arms using a ratio of 2:2:1 to acupuncture (302), counseling (302), and usual care alone (151). The difference in mean Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) scores at three and 12 months was assessed.

The researchers found that patients attended a mean of 10 sessions for acupuncture and nine sessions for counseling and that PHQ-9 data were available for 614 patients at three months and 572 patients at 12 months. There was a statistically significant reduction in mean PHQ-9 depression scores at both three and 12 months for acupuncture and counseling, compared to usual care. There were no significant differences between acupuncture and counseling. There were no serious treatment-related adverse events reported.

"In this randomized controlled trial of acupuncture and counseling for patients presenting with depression, after having consulted their general practitioner in primary care, both interventions were associated with significantly reduced depression at three months when compared to usual care alone," the authors write.

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