Acupuncture for depression: a review of clinical applications.

Author: Wu J, Yeung AS, Schnyer R, Wang Y, Mischoulon D.
Research Fellow, Neural Systems Group, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts; Acupuncture Professor, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Sichuan, China.
Conference/Journal: Can J Psychiatry.
Date published: 2012 Jul
Other: Volume ID: 57 , Issue ID: 7 , Pages: 397-405 , Word Count: 227

While increasing numbers of patients are seeking acupuncture treatment for depression in recent years, there is limited evidence of the antidepressant (AD) effectiveness of acupuncture. Given the unsatisfactory response rates of many Food and Drug Administration-approved ADs, research on acupuncture remains of potential value. Therefore, we sought to review the efficacy and safety of acupuncture treatment for depression in clinical applications. We conducted a PubMed search for publications through 2011. We assessed the adequacy of each report and abstracted information on reported effectiveness or efficacy of acupuncture as monotherapy for major depressive disorder (MDD) and as augmentation of ADs. We also examined adverse events associated with acupuncture, and evidence for acupuncture as a means of reducing side effects of ADs. Published data suggest that acupuncture, including manual-, electrical-, and laser-based, is a generally beneficial, well-tolerated, and safe monotherapy for depression. However, acupuncture augmentation in AD partial responders and nonresponders is not as well studied as monotherapy; and available studies have only investigated MDD, but not other depressive spectrum disorders. Manual acupuncture reduced side effects of ADs in MDD. We found no data on depressive recurrence rates after recovery with acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture is a potential effective monotherapy for depression, and a safe, well-tolerated augmentation in AD partial responders and nonresponders. However, the body of evidence based on well-designed studies is limited, and further investigation is called for.
PMID: 22762294