Acupuncture for depression

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In the Acupuncture Evidence Project, acupuncture was found to have “Evidence of Potential Positive Effect” for the effectiveness of acupuncture for depression when used as an adjunct to antidepressants. It is important to include the qualification that acupuncture is an adjunctive, not a stand-alone intervention for depression, based on this evidence. 

Chan 2015 conducted a systematic review that included 13 randomised control trials, of which 1 trial was considered high quality, 5 trials considered moderate quality and 7 trials low quality. Their analyses suggested that acupuncture combined with antidepressant medication could be effective, with an early onset of action, was safe and well-tolerated over the first 6-week treatment period. Moreover, this treatment combination appears to result in greater therapeutic efficacy than antidepressant therapy alone.

A Cochrane systematic review update published in March 2018 found that acupuncture may result in a moderate reduction in the severity of depression when compared with treatment as usual/no treatment. Use of acupuncture may lead to a small reduction in the severity of depression when compared with control acupuncture. Effects of acupuncture versus medication and psychological therapy are uncertain owing to the very low quality of evidence. Review authors rated the quality of evidence from most included studies as very low or low, and the effects described below should be interpreted with caution. Review authors recommend that additional high-quality randomised controlled trials should be undertaken.

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Nicole Trudgeon (Chinese medicine Practitioner). Nicole is a practitioner of acupuncture and chinese herbal medicine (AHPRA registered) at her Booragoon clinic and is a Chinese Medicine Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Perth campus.