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Saturday, 24 November, 2001, 01:38 GMT
Complementary therapies backed
Acupuncture
Acupuncture may relieve depression
A mental health charity has said some complementary therapies should be more available to depressed patients.

The Mental Health Foundation investigation into acupuncture involving the ear examined the impact of this therapy on women with mental health problems.

It concluded that more should be done to make sure patients can afford these treatments.

Women involved in the study reported feeling more relaxed and calm, having improved sleep, more energy and greater confidence, and these benefits increased if the treatment was repeated regularly over a number of weeks.


At the moment people are most likely to be offered medication, hospitalisation and, sometimes, talking therapies, but there is no one solution that works for everyone

Vicky Nicholls, Mental Health Foundation
Two women even came off anti-depressants during the research, one after six years of taking them.

Recorded comments included: "I'd recommend it to anybody, it's the only thing that's ever worked for me" and "I feel like I'm living a better quality of life now; I'm more creative, more skilful, just because I feel good".

Eight women volunteers with long term mental health problems, including eating disorders, depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder, took part, receiving weekly ear acupuncture treatments for six months.

Massage benefits

The foundation is looking into other alternatives to conventional mental health treatments and therapies.

One project examined the impact of both giving and receiving massage - and found this was also beneficial to mental wellbeing.

Vicky Nicholls, the Foundation's Strategies for Living project co-ordinator, said: "This research highlights the value of creative approaches in mental and emotional health.

"At the moment people are most likely to be offered medication, hospitalisation and, sometimes, talking therapies, but there is no one solution that works for everyone, and we need to see more therapies and services made available, so that people have a real choice."

Famous people have been spotted using ear acupuncture, in which a needle is left in place in the ear for a period of time.

They include Cherie Blair, wife of the Prime Minister.

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