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Research: Depression

July 2010
The Effectiveness and Safety of Acupuncture Therapy in Depressive Disorders: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
Journal of Affective Disorders, July 2010, Volume 124, Issue 1-2, pages 9-21
BACKGROUND: Although acupuncture has been used as an alternative treatment for depressive disorders, its effectiveness and safety are not well defined. The purpose of this systematic review with meta-analysis was to evaluate the effectiveness of acupuncture as monotherapy and as an additional therapy in treating various depressive conditions, particularly major depressive disorder (MDD) and post-stroke depression (PSD).
METHODS: Following systematic review, meta-analysis was conducted on high-quality randomized controlled trials (RCTs).
RESULTS: Of 207 clinical studies of acupuncture for various depression retrieved, 113 (54.6%) were on MDD and 76 (36.7%) on PSD. Twenty RCTs of MDD (n=1998) and 15 of PSD (n=1680) identified for high-quality protocol (Jadad score >or=3) were included for meta-analysis. The efficacy of acupuncture as monotherapy was comparable to antidepressants alone in improving clinical response and alleviating symptom severity of MDD, but not different from sham acupuncture. No sufficient evidence favored the expectation that acupuncture combined with antidepressants could yield better outcomes than antidepressants alone in treating MDD. Acupuncture was superior to antidepressants and waitlist controls in improving both response and symptom severity of PSD. The incidence of adverse events in acupuncture intervention was significantly lower than antidepressants.
CONCLUSIONS: Acupuncture therapy is safe and effective in treating MDD and PSD, and could be considered an alternative option for the two disorders.

June 2008
Is Acupuncture Beneficial in Depression: A Meta-Analysis of 8 Randomized Controlled Trials
Journal: Journal of Affective Disorders, June 10, 2008.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders. Acupuncture is a popular complementary and alternative medicine intervention suggested in the treatment of depression, but its effectiveness is uncertain. This updated meta-analysis was conducted to more precisely assess the beneficial effect of acupuncture in depression therapy. METHODS: The following databases were searched: MEDLINE, EMBASE, BIOSIS, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and Chinese Scientific Journal Database. The following terms were used: acupuncture, acupressure, depression, depressive disorder, clinical trial, and randomized controlled trial. RESULTS: Eight small-randomized controlled trials comparing 477 subjects were included in the meta-analysis. Our results confirmed that acupuncture could significantly reduce the severity of depression, which was indicated by decreased scores of Hamilton rating scale for depression (HAMD) or Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). The pooled standardized mean difference of the 'Improvement of depression' was -0.65 (95% CI -1.18, -0.11; P=0.02) by random effect model. However, no significant effect of active acupuncture was found on the response rate (RR 1.32, 95% CI 0.83 to 2.10; P=0.25) and remission rate (RR 1.30, 95% CI 0.57 to 2.95; P=0.53). CONCLUSION: Although this meta-analysis might be discounted due to the low quality of individual trials, it supported that acupuncture was an effective treatment that could significantly reduce the severity of disease in the patients with depression.

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