Chronic stress, anxiety and depression are the most common and disabling mental health concerns in modern society. They are often experienced as a complex set of emotional, physical and behavioural symptoms.
People with anxiety disorder frequently experience unpleasant feelings of worry or fear accompanied by physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, muscle aches, digestive complaints, trembling, irritability, sweating and hot flashes.
Depression is characterised by low energy, mood and low self-esteem, poor concentration, negative thoughts and emotions, and loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities. Appetite, body weight and sleep are also commonly affected.
The following insights are obtained from scientific studies, systematic reviews and analysis of clinical trials investigating the efficacy of Acupuncture for Mental Health.
Twenty RCTs were included in this systematic review and meta-analysis. All included studies were designed for patients with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), and 18 studies were published in Chinese. Eggerâ€™s test showed that the asymmetry of the funnel plot in all studies was not significant. The meta-analysis of anxiety symptoms showed that acupuncture was more effective than the control condition, with a standard mean effect size of âˆ’â€‰0.41, and that acupuncture intervention showed good tolerance and safety in the treatment of anxiety disorder.
Effectiveness of acupuncture on anxiety disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials Yang, Xy., Yang, Nb., Huang, Ff. et al.
In total, 776 patients with newly diagnosed trigeminal neuralgia in each cohort with similar baseline characteristics were enrolled in the study. The acupuncture cohort had a reduced risk of depression compared to the non-acupuncture cohort. Kaplanâ€“Meier analysis also revealed that the cumulative incidence of depression was significantly lower in the acupuncture cohort during the 13-year follow-up period. In particular, the beneficial effect of acupuncture was a decrease in the risk of depression among TN patients aged 50â€“ 69 years who had also used carbamazepine.
Long-Term Beneficial Effects of Acupuncture with Reduced Risk of Depression Development Following Trigeminal Neuralgia: A Nationwide Population-Based Cohort Study Liao CC, Lin CL, Liao KR, Li JM
The pathophysiology of these disorders may be associated with glutamate dysregulation, marked by a high rate of glutamate release and elevated expression of glutamate receptors and glutamate transporters in the CNS. The ability of acupuncture stimulation to modulate glutamate receptor and EAAT expression suggests that the treatment effects of acupuncture are underpinned by its intervention in the dysregulated glutamate system. Further preclinical and clinical studies are needed to clarify the possible mechanisms of acupuncture in these neuropsychiatric disorders and to establish protocols for treatment guidelines.
The Effects of Acupuncture on Glutamatergic Neurotransmission in Depression, Anxiety, Schizophrenia, and Alzheimer's Disease: A Review of the Literature Cheng-Hao Tu, Iona MacDonald, Yi-Hung Chen
The 64 trials included in this review compared acupuncture alone or in combination with pharmaceutical therapy versus a range of comparator interventions. The reduction in severity of depression at the end of treatment was smaller when acupuncture was compared with control acupuncture than when acupuncture was compared with no treatment control, although we rated both sets of results as providing lowâ€quality evidence. The possible benefit of acupuncture provided alone or in conjunction with pharmaceutical medication such as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) compared with pharmaceutical monotherapy is uncertain owing to the very low quality of available evidence. The effect of acupuncture compared with psychological therapy is unclear. The risk of adverse events with acupuncture is also unclear, as most trials did not report these adequately. However, in general, the risk of adverse events associated with acupuncture is low (Melchart 2004;Witt 2009). Few trials reported on dropout, reduced use of medication, and quality of life. Evidence is insufficient to show the optimal type of acupuncture or characteristics of acupuncture dosage. Lack of mediumâ€term and longâ€term followâ€up in clinical trials represents a significant limitation of the evidence base.
Acupuncture for depression Smith CA, Armour M, Lee MS, Wang LQ, Hay PJ.
Of 39 potentially relevant studies, seven RCTs met the inclusion criteria for review while five studies met the criteria for meta-analysis. All studies reported the positive effect of acupressure on relieving anxiety from the anticipation of surgery or treatment. EX-HN3 (Yintang), HT7 (Shenmen) were the commonest points selected and two studies used bilateral points. The acupressure procedure was generally well reported and studies had a low risk of bias. The combined results of the five trials showed a greater overall reduction in anxiety in the acupressure group than in the sham controls.
Effects of Acupressure on Anxiety: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Au DW, Tsang HW, Ling PP, Leung CH, Ip PK, Cheung WM
In this report we present what is to our knowledge the first study to rigorously evaluate the clinical and economic impacts of acupuncture and counselling for patients who are representative of those who continue to experience depression in primary care. Our evidence on acupuncture compared with usual care and counselling compared with usual care shows that both treatments are associated with a statistically significant reduction in symptoms of depression in the short to medium term, with no reported serious adverse events related to treatment. Acupuncture is cost-effective compared with counselling or usual care alone, although the ranking of counselling and acupuncture depends on the relative costs of delivering these interventions.
Acupuncture, Counselling or Usual Care for Depression (ACUDep): a randomised controlled trial MacPherson H, Vickers A, Bland M, et al.
The overall clinical results on using acupuncture to treat depression are promising, but only limited evidence for its effectiveness in treating schizophrenia was found. Acupuncture improves the quality of life, particularly that of sleep, in psychiatric patients. Brain research has revealed that acupuncture has a modulating and normalizing effect on the limbicâ€“paralimbicâ€“neocortical network (LPNN), including the default mode network. Because the LPNN is related to sleep and emotions, this might explain the improved qualities of life and sleep after acupuncture.
Schizophrenia and Depression: A systematic Review of the Effectiveness and the Working Mechanisms Behind Acupuncture Bosch P, van den Noort M, Staudte H, Lim S.
Mean improvement in PTSD severity was significantly greater among those receiving acupuncture than in those receiving usual PTSD care (PCLÎ”=19.8Â±13.3 vs. 9.7Â±12.9, P<0.001; capsÎ”=35.0Â±20.26 vs. 10.9Â±20.8, p<0.0001). acupuncture was also associated with significantly greater improvements in depression, pain, and physical mental health functioning. pre-post effect-sizes for these outcomes were large robust.0.001;>
Acupuncture was effective for reducing PTSD symptoms. Limitations included small sample size and inability to parse specific treatment mechanisms. Larger multisite trials with longer follow-up, comparisons to standard PTSD treatments, and assessments of treatment acceptability are needed. Acupuncture is a novel therapeutic option that may help to improve population reach of PTSD treatment.
Randomized effectiveness trial of a brief course of acupuncture for posttraumatic stress disorder Engel CC, Cordova EH, Benedek DM, Liu X, Gore KL, Goertz C, et al.
The results of this analysis suggest acupuncture is cost-effective compared with counselling or usual care alone. This result is strongly influenced by the cost of acupuncture which only remains cost-effective when the cost of providing the intervention is lower than that of counselling. For patients in whom acupuncture is unavailable and perhaps inappropriate, counselling has an ICER less than a range of estimates of NICEâ€™s cost-effective threshold. However, further research is needed to determine the most cost-effective treatment pathways for depressed patients when the full range of available interventions is considered.
Cost-effectiveness analysis of acupuncture, counselling and usual care in treating patients with depression: the results of the ACUDep trial Spackman, E., Richmond, S., Sculpher, M., Bland, M., Brealey, S., Gabe, R., Hopton, A., Keding, A., Lansdown, H., Perren, S., Torgerson, D., Watt, I., & MacPherson, H.
This is the first systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective clinical trials on the effectiveness of acupuncture for treatment of PTSD. Only 4â€‰RCTs and 2 UCTs met the inclusion criteria for this review. Our main finding of this review is that acupuncture is effective for PTSD based on one high-quality RCT and a meta-analysis.
Acupuncture has positive effects in PTSD patients, although the evidence is still lacking as to its true efficacy for this condition.
Acupuncture for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials and Prospective Clinical Trials Young-Dae Kim, In Heo, Byung-Cheul Shin, Cindy Crawford, Hyung-Won Kang, Jung-Hwa Lim,
Four systematic reviews and 26 RCTs on acupuncture for treatment of depression were identified and included in this review. The methodological quality of the trial reports was generally low in terms of generation of the allocation sequence, allocation concealment, blinding and intention to treat. A significant beneficial effect was found for acupuncture in improvement of depression compared to pooled control measured by Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression. Subgroup analysis suggested that electro-acupuncture and TCM acupuncture, were not statistically different from medication. Acupuncture was regarded as generally safe in the clinical trials included in this review.
Acupuncture treatment for depressionâ€”A systematic review and meta-analysis Trine Stub, Terje AlrÃ¦k, Jianping Liu
Browse our collection of scientific research on Acupuncture for Mental Health. It includes recent and reputable papers published by peer-reviewed journals within the last 10 years.
2021, Jan 30
The study suggest that acupuncture therapy showed beneficial effects in reducing anxiety in patients with anxiety disorder. It indicated that acupuncture is more effective than western medicine. It also further suggests that acupuncture works better in earlier stages.
Yang, Xy., Yang, Nb., Huang, Ff. et al. Full Article
The systematic review and meta-analysis also concluded that the therapeutic efficacy of acupuncture is highly effective alone and combined with antidepressant medication.
Liao CC, Lin CL, Liao KR, Li JM Full Article
2019, Feb 12
We conclude that the treatment effects of acupuncture may be underpinned by its intervention in the dysregulated glutamate system. Further preclinical and clinical studies are needed to clarify the possible mechanisms of acupuncture in these neuropsychiatric disorders and to establish protocols for treatment guidelines.
Cheng-Hao Tu, Iona MacDonald, Yi-Hung Chen Full Article
2018, Jan 4
We found low-quality evidence suggesting that acupuncture (manual and electro-) may moderately reduce the severity of depression by end of treatment. Acupuncture may be associated with a small reduction in the severity of depression of 1.69 points on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD) by end of treatment.
Smith CA, Armour M, Lee MS, Wang LQ, Hay PJ. Full Article
Our evidence on acupuncture compared with usual care and counselling compared with usual care shows that both treatments are associated with a statistically significant reduction in symptoms of depression in the short to medium term, with no reported serious adverse events related to treatment. Acupuncture is cost-effective compared with counselling or usual care alone, although the ranking of counselling and acupuncture depends on the relative costs of delivering these interventions.
MacPherson H, Vickers A, Bland M, et al. Full Article
Acupuncture seems to be a promising treatment for anxiety; however, there is a need for improving the methodological quality of the research on this field.
Goyata SL, Avelino CC, Santos SV, Souza Junior DI, Gurgel MD, Terra FS Full Article
From the evidence found in this study, acupuncture seems to be an effective add-on treatment in patients with depression and, to a lesser degree, in patients with schizophrenia, but large well-designed studies are needed to confirm that evidence.
Bosch P, van den Noort M, Staudte H, Lim S. Full Article
Acupuncture was effective for reducing PTSD symptoms. Limitations included small sample size and inability to parse specific treatment mechanisms. Acupuncture is a novel therapeutic option that may help to improve population reach of PTSD treatment.
Engel CC, Cordova EH, Benedek DM, Liu X, Gore KL, Goertz C, et al. Full Article
The clinical results of the trails demonstrated that acupuncture and counselling significantly reduced depression measures at 3 and 6 months when compared with routine care. It was also reported to have improvement over the 12 month period. It also further showcase that acupuncture is cost-effective (in the UK) compared with counselling or usual care alone.
Spackman, E., Richmond, S., Sculpher, M., Bland, M., Brealey, S., Gabe, R., Hopton, A., Keding, A., Lansdown, H., Perren, S., Torgerson, D., Watt, I., & MacPherson, H. Full Article
Limited evidence suggests that acupuncture may have some antipsychotic effects as measured on global and mental state with few adverse effects. Better designed large studies are needed to fully and fairly test the effects of acupuncture for people with schizophrenia
Shen X, Xia J, Adams CE. Full Article
2014, Mar 06
The systematic review showcase the efficacy of acupuncture in improving anxiety, depression and bipolar disorders. Patients reported to have reduced pre-procedure anxiety and anxiety disorders. The treatments were also found to have been beneficial with behavioral desensitization for anxiety neurosis.
Anthony J Bazzan, George Zabrecky, Daniel A Monti & Andrew B Newberg Full Article
The study indicated that acupuncture is highly effective with increasing relaxation response for military veterans. It showed that both craving and anxiety levels continued to drop as study participants seek long term therapy. It also showed the importance for the care of military personnel and for veterans who have recently returned from active duty.
Chang, B. H., & Sommers, E. Full Article
This systematic review showcase the efficacy of acupuncture in treating generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Patients reported to have less or no side effects compared to having pharmaceutical drugs
Rui Ma, Shujun Xu, Xiuyun Wen,Qian Wu,Yanan Wu, Yefei Huang and Wenbin Fu Full Article
This systematic review indicated the efficacy of acupuncture for PTSD patients. Patients reported to have better outcomes compared to drug therapy in particular selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). There were less side effects for non-SSRI group and considered a safe treatment for long term therapy.
Young-Dae Kim, In Heo, Byung-Cheul Shin, Cindy Crawford, Hyung-Won Kang, Jung-Hwa Lim, Full Article
Current evidence from this meta-analysis of randomized trials shows that acupuncture is effective in reducing severity of depression and that TCM- and electro acupuncture may have similar effect as current usual care.
Trine Stub, Terje AlrÃ¦k, Jianping Liu Full Article
Although well-conducted clinical research can help members of the public to make better-informed decisions about their healthcare, we do not make any claims that any particular treatment may be efficacious for any individual person.
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