Depression is a very real problem for pregnant women, and most antidepressants aren’t safe for pregnancy. A new study at Stanford University School of Medicine might have pinpointed (sorry) an effective and safe treatment — acupuncture.
Researchers led by Rachel Manber and Deirdre Lyell recruited 150 women who were between 12 and 30 weeks pregnant and who had major depressive disorder. They randomly received one of three treatments: acupuncture techniques specifically aimed at depression; a “control” acupuncture, in which needles were inserted in points not thought to alleviate depressive symptoms, or massage. All recieved eight weeks of therapy and underwent evaluations for depression at the four- and eight-week marks by an interviewer who wasn’t aware of the treatment each had received.
63 percent of the women receiving depression-specific acupuncture had at least a 50 percent reduction in symptoms, while only 44 percent of the women in the other two treatment groups combined saw such a response.
Treating depression in pregnancy is important because about 14 percent of women get it. Many may have had it before pregnancy, stop taking their medication when they become pregnant, and have a relapse. Others are just swamped by the potent hormonal cocktail pregnancy delivers, or the looming changes in their lives. Untreated depression can lead to mothers not taking care of themselves or their babies.
As someone who had depression both before and after both my pregnancies, but strangely not during them, I welcome anything that can ease the gloom while being safe for mothers and their babies. Because depression on top of the hormones and general discomfort of pregnancy is just no fun.