Doctor Points to Studies Suggesting That Acupuncture As Effective at Treating Moderate Depression As Antidepressants
For those who suffer from depression, bipolar disorder, or other imbalances of the brain, one doctor proposes using acupuncture as an alternative to antidepressant medication. Pregnant women who choose this approach may have the added benefit of reducing the risk of their children being born with birth defects.
Dr. Patrick Massey argues that recent research has found that while antidepressants can help those with severe depression, they have less obvious benefits for those with milder depression. In clinical tests, antidepressants were no more effective for people with milder depression than sugar pills functioning as placebos. Dr. Massey thinks that this is due to many factors contributing to depression besides brain chemistry.
Dr. Massey points to a recent study in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, which looked at a compilation of studies that examined the effectiveness of acupuncture at relieving moderate depression for people across a broad age span. The study ultimately found that acupuncture was at least as effective as antidepressants, and when coupled with antidepressants, might reduce some of the side effects. Dr. Massey cautions that the weight of medical research on the subject is not conclusive, but notes that at the very least, it shows that acupuncture is an effective therapy for those with depression. In addition, exercise and meditation have also been shown to be effective alternatives.
While the studies on acupuncture as an alternative are promising, those with depression should do their research before making the choice to go with acupuncture over antidepressants. That includes working with their physician to get an accurate assessment of their mental health so that they can make an informed choice. However, if you are pregnant with moderate depression, and you opt to use acupuncture instead of antidepressants, you might have the benefit of lowering your child's risk of being born with a birth defect. That is because certain antidepressants have been linked to causing a variety of birth defects, especially if women take them during the first trimester. Antidepressants like Depakote have been classified as Pregnancy Category D drugs - evidence of harm to human fetuses - by the Food and Drug Administration as a result.
If your child has a birth defect that you believe could be due to your taking antidepressants while pregnant, you might consider filing a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer and/or a medical malpractice suit against the physician who prescribed you the medication. For the product liability lawsuit, you would make the argument that the manufacturer had a duty to consumers to create as safe a drug as possible, and the manufacturer breached that duty by designing a drug that was unreasonably dangerous. The breach caused your injury (through exposure to the antidepressant's harmful effects) and the damage was your child's birth defect. For the medical malpractice lawsuit, you would argue that your physician had a duty to inform you, the patient, of all of the potential harms of your course of treatment. Your physician breached this duty by failing to inform you of all of the harmful side effects of your antidepressants, even though he or she knew that you were pregnant. As a result, you would argue that you were injured through exposure, and the damage was your child's birth defect.