Acupuncture for depression – and coming off anti depressants

Acupuncture for depression – does it work?

The short answer to this is Yes! There is now robust evidence from large scale clinical trials to support acupuncture as a beneficial treatment for depression – see for example MacPherson et al 2013. I moved to York in 2003 to work with Professor MacPherson to develop this definitive large scale clinical trial.

Acupuncture for pain and depression

The preparatory research that we conducted at York for the definitive clinical trial (which I undertook for my PhD) identified a number of patient groups who might be especially interested in acupuncture were it found to be effective. One of these patient groups was individuals with painful symptoms that went alongside their depression. The full scale clinical trial therefore included a secondary analysis where pain was explored as a co-variable in a comparison of acupuncture or counselling, both as adjuncts to usual care vs usual care alone. Findings were that acupuncture was superior to counselling in terms of alleviating pain and equal to it in terms of depression outcomes – see Hopton et al 2014.

One of the patient groups that were identified by the York research has very much come to the fore recently (see Panorama – the Antidepressant Story). Our York research (see Schroer et al, 2009) had suggested that those coming off antidepressants would greatly value acupuncture as an extra support. It is also worth remembering that acupuncture has been widely used in drug and alcohol projects throughout the UK to help substance users. I have a decade of experience working in such projects and have seen acupuncture assist patients to come off highly addictive drugs including heroin, where I have provided support for this.

Please get in touch if you would like support in coming off antidepressants – please note I am not medically qualified and would always recommend that medication reduction is done with the support of your GP too.