Depression, Anxiety, and Acupuncture

Written by: DrTonyWillcox | May 24, 2013

Research One

The findings from these studies suggest that acupuncture could play a significant role in the treatment of depression and anxiety. The papers included here show acupuncture consistently affecting significant improvement in these conditions. Fortunately for research-purposes, a number of internationally recognized observer-rating scales for anxiety and depression have been created, which are used in both western and eastern trials to defend inclusion criteria and to assess progress.

Depression, Anxiety, and Acupuncture

Depression, Anxiety, and Acupuncture

Patients waiting to receive acupuncture

Research Two

The aim of this study was to evaluate the evidence for the efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of anxiety and anxiety disorders by a systematic review of the relevant research.

Searches of the major biomedical databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, ClNAHL, PsycINFO, Cochrane Library) were conducted between February and July 2004. Specialist complementary medicine databases were also searched and efforts made to identify unpublished research. No language restrictions were imposed and translations were obtained where necessary. The study methodology was appraised and clinical commentaries obtained for studies reporting clinical outcomes.

Twelve controlled trials were located, of which 10 were randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Four RCTs focused on acupuncture in generalized anxiety disorder or anxiety neurosis, while six focused on anxiety in the perioperative period. No studies were located on the use of acupuncture specifically for panic disorder, phobias or obsessive-compulsive disorder. In generalized anxiety disorder or anxiety neurosis, it is difficult to interpret the findings of the studies of acupuncture because of the range of interventions against which acupuncture was compared. All trials reported positive findings but the reports lacked many basic methodological details. Reporting of the studies of perioperative anxiety was generally better and the initial indications are that acupuncture, specifically auricular acupuncture, is more effective than acupuncture at sham points and may be as effective as drug therapy in this situation. The results were, however, based on subjective measures and blinding could not be guaranteed.

Positive findings are reported for acupuncture in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder or anxiety neurosis but there is currently insufficient research evidence for firm conclusions to be drawn. No trials of acupuncture for other anxiety disorders were located. There is some limited evidence in favor of auricular acupuncture in perioperative anxiety. Overall, the promising findings indicate that further research is warranted in the form of well designed, adequately powered studies.

1- Acupuncture for anxiety and anxiety disorders–a systematic literature review.
Pilkington K, Kirkwood G, Rampes H, Cummings M, Richardson J.

School of Integrated Health, University of Westminster, London, UK.

Join our Newsletter