Research Update

Clinical Roundup: Selected treatment options for depression

It is estimated that over 350 million people are affected by depression worldwide. Although described as neurochemical disequilibrium disorder, with well-defined psychoactive treatments, but complimentary and alternative treatments (CAM) identifies different causes of depression, as well as treatments. It is estimated that 10-20 percent of patient’s conditions elicit poor response to conventional therapy; there exist a set of conventional approaches that are beneficial in clinical practice as they are combined individually as per each patient’s needs.

acupuncture complimentary alternative medicine clinical roundup depression treatment
Acupuncture treatment system

Depression has been defined as comprising a group of disorders that include major depressions, dysthymic disorder, adjustment disorder with depressed mood and minor depression. Acupuncture and moxibustion are two techniques drawn from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that are associated with useful resources necessary for the management of depressive disorders. The effectiveness of acupuncture is noticeable when used in conjunction with Western conventional medicine by helping lower the doses of drugs with the likelihood of improving adherence to conventional treatments. Considering the associated physical illnesses, immune dysfunction and high mortality rates from depression, auriculotherapy helps address some of the existing challenges. It is makes it possible to overcome pharmacologic therapy limitations.

As part of the TCM, auriculotherapy is a proposed as a therapy for patients who have depression, whereby specific points on the auricle are punctured or stimulated to facilitate treatment of various body disorders.  To a larger extent, auriculotherapy is a specialized form of acupuncture that is commonly used in the treatment of the ear as a microsystem of the body. The treatment protocol includes application of magnetic pellets starting on either the left ear or the right ear. Only one ear receives treatment at a time, with each ear treated alternately, for a total treatment of 4 weeks. After the first application, the magnetic pellets are retained on the acupoints for 1 week, and then a new set of pellets is applied on the opposite ear in a similar fashion.

Depression being a significant contributor to the global burden of disease, with the World Health Organization estimating that depression will be a major concern in both developed and developing world by 2030. Yoga is a cost-effective; easy to implement approach that produces beneficial emotion, psychological, and biologic effects. It is considered to be an effective intervention for the management of depression based on the rigorous postures that involve opening of the chest thereby directly contributing to efficient blood circulation and eventual mood elevation.

Other interventions include Kelle Meditation that helps patients relieve their stress, anxiety and depression; Reflective Garden Walking that is based on the rationale that outdoor gardens are a means of improving morale, self-confidence, cooperation, social interaction and physical functioning for older adults. Anthroposophic Health Care can also be helpful in addressing the effect of aberrant diet and aberrant lifestyles as well as the causative agents of depressed patients’ spiritual needs. As such, anthroposophic health care (AH) addresses all factors contributing to depressive disorders in addition to nutritional and body psychology that influence the nutritional uptake and body experiences respectively.

You have just read a summary of the research paper: “Clinical Roundup: Selected treatment options for depression.” Alternative and Complementary Therapies 20.1 (2014): 52-59. doi:10.1089/act.2014.20110. Free full text pdf available from publisher’s side.

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