Electroacupuncture may be effective for depression: study

HONG KONG Thu Mar 29, 2012 6:32am EDT

Related Topics

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Boosting the effect of acupuncture needles with small electric currents may be effective in treating depression, a study in Hong Kong has found.

Led by Zhang Zhang-jin at the School of Chinese Medicine, University of Hong Kong, the researchers used electroacupuncture to stimulate seven spots on the heads of 73 participants, who had suffered several bouts of depression in the last 7 years.

The electroacupuncture was given in addition to medication that the patients were already taking and meant to augment their treatment, Zhang told a news conference.

Half the patients received electroacupuncture nine times over three weeks, while the other half - the placebo group - only had needles inserted superficially into their heads.

They were later assessed by experts for their depression levels and the group that received genuine electroacupuncture was found to be a lot happier.

"The drop (in depression scores) among the group receiving active treatment was more significant than the placebo group," said Roger Ng, another researcher in the group, which published their findings in the journal PLoS (Public Library of Science) ONE.

"When the acupoints are stimulated, some brain centres responsible for producing serotonin are stimulated," explained Ng, a consultant at the department of psychiatry at the Kowloon Hospital in Hong Kong.

An imbalance in serotonin levels is believed to be linked to depression. Depression affects about 20 percent of people at some point in their lives.

The World Health Organisation predicts that by 2020, depression will rival heart disease as the health disorder with the highest disease burden in the world.

Zhang said his group may consider moving into another trial using only electroacupuncture on patients suffering milder depression.

(Reporting by Tan Ee Lyn, Editing by Jonathan Thatcher)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (2)
Troubador wrote:
Medical science is perpetually seeking a source to exploit what is never possible to mimick. The omnipotent is sacred and most genius.

Depression is natures shield when tolerance of emotion becomes threatening to life itself. Suicide is the ultimate of escape. Depression by itself is not the motive. Lack of awareness does not rid one of the cause. At best, science attempts to bypass nature. This is not possible.

Life cannot be fully experienced without awareness, though the industry is marketing a false promise and unsuccessfully so through all the gimmick.

Dr. Freud knew what he was talking about!

The balance between good and evil maintains healthy outlook. A tip in this scale is never wise, and comes with natural consequence.

Mar 29, 2012 11:52am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Anne7600 wrote:
I am fascinated to read more about new and alternative treatments for depression. I have also been reading some of Belleruth Naparstek’s articles about guided meditation. It is encouraging that there are non-pharmaceutical options out there.

Mar 29, 2012 8:37pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.