Pregnancy often comes along with a roller coaster of emotions in addition to nausea, pain, stress, and restlessness. It is not often talked about, but many women experience depression during their pregnancies. According to Health magazine, one in five women suffers from depression during pregnancy but some research suggest that acupuncture is a helpful way to treat it. Here is all you need to know about pregnancy, depression, and acupuncture.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is an Eastern medical practice that was developed a thousand years ago in China. It’s often used to alleviate pain, discomfort, nausea, and varying other health conditions. A large study that was published in October of 2012, researched over 18,000 patients to see if acupuncture was an effective way to treat serious pain. The study revealed that it does help alleviate chronic pain and is a “reasonable referral option.”

A study in the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists published in 2010, studied 150 women who had depression. 52 of these women were randomly treated with acupuncture while the rest were used as the control group and given massages. The findings of this research proved positive results in the women given acupuncture treatments and showed a significant reduction in their Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression score.

Acupuncture is said to work on treating depression because of the effects it has on the nervous system, which is responsible for the brain and spine. Ultra thin needles are placed at different pressure points throughout the body, which help reduce inflammation, increase circulation, and release endorphins in the brain. These endorphins are the “feel good” chemicals that help put you in a better mood and can help with depression.

What Are the Risks?

Just like any medical treatment, there are some risks associated with acupuncture and pregnancy. Overall, there is a very low rate of side effects but some problems include fatigue and minor bruising and bleeding around the needle site.

If you are pregnant and have been diagnosed with depression, talk to your doctor about the different treatment options available. Acupuncture is a more natural way to treat depression, as opposed to taking antidepressants, but find what works best for you and your body.

If you decide to try acupuncture, make sure you go to a licensed acupuncturist who has had extensive experience treating pregnant women. It is important to note that while acupuncture may be a great medical option for pain and depression during pregnancy, it shouldn’t be used to treat any serious conditions.