Effectiveness of acupuncture as an add-on treatment for women with postnatal depression: a systematic review
School of Nursing and Midwifery
Introduction: Treatment of PND usually involves psychological approaches (such as behavioural activation, cognitive behavioural therapy, and interpersonal psychotherapy) in combination with the use of antidepressants (such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors [SSRIs] and Tricyclic Antidepressants [TCAs]). However, the outcomes of these treatments are debatable. For example, alongside of their side effects, antidepressants often have practical disadvantages, such as the preference of women to avoid medication while breastfeeding. Apart from that, 40% of women with PND do not respond to antidepressants, and in 50-80% of women there is a risk that antidepressants result in relapse or recurrence. Exploring effective alternative options for the treatment of PND without side-effects and practical disadvantages is therefore important. Since some studies demonstrated that acupuncture can serve as a promising method for treating depression, women suffering from PND may also consider acupuncture as an alternative treatment option to alleviate this condition.
Aim: The objective of this review is to synthesize the best available evidence on the effectiveness of acupuncture as an add-on treatment for women with postnatal depression. More specifically, the review question is: What is the best available evidence on the effectiveness of acupuncture as an add-on treatment for women with postnatal depression?
Findings: The project contributes to one of the key health priorities of WHO and Australia which is to develop evidence based resources to treat depression. Findings from the project will be critical for the urgent needs of mental health policy development, research advancement and better health outcomes for women with PND.