Presenters at the recent Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine’s (SMFM) annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting ™, held in Chicago, IL, unveiled findings that show that acupuncture may be an effective treatment for depression during pregnancy.


“Depression during pregnancy is an issue of concern because it has negative effects on the mother and the baby as well as the rest of the family,” said Dr. Schnyer, one of the study’s authors.


While the rates of depression in pregnant women are comparable to rates seen among similarly aged non-pregnant women and among women during the postpartum period, there are fewer treatment studies of depression during pregnancy than during the postpartum period.


Anti-depressant treatment during pregnancy can affect the developing baby and mothers as well.


In the study, 150 participants who  were diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder were randomly placed in either a group that received  acupuncture specific treatment for depression , or one of two active controls: control acupuncture  (they didn’t receive acupuncture specific treatment, but another form of acupuncture) or massage .


The women received 12 sessions during a two month period.  Junior acupuncturists masked to treatment assignment needled participants at points prescribed by senior acupuncturists. The mother’s symptoms of depression were rated at the beginning, and after four and eight weeks of treatment.


The women receiving the acupuncture specific treatment  experienced a significantly greater decrease in depression severity compared to the combined controls  or  the  acupuncture alone They also had a higher response rate (63.0%) than the combined controls or CTRL acupuncture alone Symptom reduction and response rates did not differ significantly between controls (CTRL 37.5% and MSSG 50.0%).


Mild and transient side effects were reported by 43/150 participants (4 in MSSG; 19 in CTRL, 20 in SPEC).  Significantly fewer participants reported side-effects in MSSG than the two acupuncture groups.


“The results of our study show that the acupuncture protocol we tested could be a viable treatment option for depression during pregnancy” said Dr. Schnyer.



Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (2010, February 4). Acupuncture found effective against depression during pregnancy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 20, 2010, from­ /releases/2010/02/100204075105.htm