Acupuncture to Enhance Anti-depressant Medication: Feel Better Faster

Depression and chronic low mood are very prevalent conditions affecting Canadians. Those diagnosed with mild to moderate forms of depression can have success with natural interventions if they are started early with good adherence to treatment. But not all cases are the same, and those diagnosed with more serious and chronic forms of depression are often prescribed anti-depressant médications. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) are a very common prescription in Canada. 9% of the Canadian population is taking an anti-depressant medication, which is a significant number and constantly growing. At times, scientists question the effectiveness and side effects of these medications. Looking at alternative medicine additions to help enhance efficacy and relief of depression can be of great benefit to a patient. By lifting mood more efficiently and effectively, there is hope to resolve depression, feel better, and remove the need for medication.

Acupuncture needles. Photo credit: Dollar Photo Club
Acupuncture needles.
Photo credit: Dollar Photo Club

Acupuncture is an alternative treatment that is growing in popularity to help heal the mind. Known to balance the energy of the body and regulate the nervous system, acupuncture is becoming a common intervention for those seeking to restore a balanced mood. Treatments are highly individualized based on the patient’s presentation of depression along with other signs and symptoms he/she might be experiencing. Specific points are chosen and treatments are very relaxing and restorative. The best part is that science is now catching up and publishing studies showing benefit to combining acupuncture with anti-depressant medication to help treat mental illness.

In fact, studies are showing the use of acupuncture and medication together exceeds the therapeutic result of taking medications alone. A study published in early 2015 by the Journal of Affective Disorders wanted to examine the use of SSRI’s alone and in combination with acupuncture to help lift depressive symptoms. Looking at newly diagnosed depressive patients, the combination of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) with acupuncture has shown clinical benefit, greater than simply using the SSRI medication alone. Receiving consistent acupuncture treatments in the first 6 weeks of SSRI treatment was “effective, has an early onset of action, safe and well-tolerated” (1),

These findings are very promising and practical. After being diagnosed with depression, many people want to do everything in their power to stabilize their mood and feel like themselves again. The addition of acupuncture is a trusted and researched way to use alternative medicine to enhance conventional depression treatments.

  1. Journal of Affective Disorders.2015 May 1;176:106-17. 

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Photo of Dr. Josée Boyer, ND Photo credit: Kaleena Jay Photography


Author: Dr. Josée Boyer, ND

Josée is a Naturopathic Doctor at Ottawa Holistic Wellness Centre. Her clinical focus the studyof interactions between the psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the human body. She focuses on anxiety, stress, insomnia, hormone health and depression which can cause fatigue, digestive complaints, a weak immune system and pain