using acupuncture and 10 people with counseling for one person to no longer be depressed.
"What this says is if you don't get completely better, there are other options," Dr. Philip Muskin, a psychiatrist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, told Reuters Health.
"One option would be to take a different medication, but by this study these would be valid options," said Muskin, who was not involved with the new research.
He cautioned, however, that counseling and acupuncture are not replacements for medication. The majority of study participants were still taking antidepressants at the end of the three months.
Muskin said the study also doesn't show what types of patients respond best to acupuncture or counseling.
"What I can't tell from this study is who's who. Not everybody got better," he said.
MacPherson said it's best to ask patients for their treatment preference.
"If you talk to people, they would almost always have a leaning one way or the other," he said.
Acupuncture is only covered by health insurance in the UK for chronic pain, MacPherson said. In the U.S., some plans also cover acupuncture for pain or nausea.
According to online information from the Mayo Clinic, the risks of acupuncture are low if people hire competent and certified practitioners. Complications can include soreness, organ injury and infections.
"Cleary acupuncture is a new option," MacPherson said. "This is the first evidence that acupuncture really helps."