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  • Writer's pictureMarieke Pieterman, L.Ac.

Anti-depressants + Acupuncture = Less Depression

By Marieke A. Pieterman

Do you struggle finding pleasure in life? Does life just feel better when you are isolated? Do you feel like your depression medication is not working? You are not alone.

It is estimated that one is 12 adults in the United States report having depression -- and women are twice as likely as men to be depressed.

But according to a recent study, acupuncture -- coupled with prescription drugs for depression -- can help alleviate some of the symptoms.

In this study, researchers at the Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine hospital used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology to show that acupuncture significantly increased the network connectivity of the corticostriatum (in the cortex) to other regions of the brain.

This increase of network connectivity is particularly significant for those who suffer from major depression disorder (MDD). These network connections play a predominant role in one’s ability to develop appropriate goal-directed behaviors, including the motivation and mental capacity to develop appropriate actions to obtain a specific outcome. This enables one’s ability to then learn these appropriate actions that produce desired outcomes and reward, and thus have the motivation for selecting these actions.

Study participants (46 females with MDD) were given 20 mg of fluoxetine (a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor similar to Prozac) for the eight-week treatment period. They were then assigned to a true acupuncture plus drug group, or a sham acupuncture (plastic needle guide tubes, without needles, were tapped against the skin), plus drug group.

In addition, the following data was gathered both before and after the eight-week treatment period: 1) fMRI scans of the brain; 2) liver and kidney function blood work, including ALT, AST, BUN, and creatinine; and 3) two completed self-report depression rating scales. Acupuncture was initially administered once a day for three days, and then once every three days for the remaining eight-week treatment period for a total of 20 treatments.

True acupuncture plus drug group was effective in significantly reducing self-reported depression symptoms, as well as resulting in fMRI brain images that reflected a significant increase in the network connectivity of the corticostriatum to other regions of the brain. Sham acupuncture plus drug group did not produce either of these results.

Have you suffered from depression long enough? Maybe it’s time to consider adding acupuncture to your treatment plan for depression.

Acupuncture Alleviates Depression And Benefits The Brain



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