Acupuncture/ pressureAnxiety (Panic)/Depression

Acupuncture is not very effective treatment for major depression

It might help some people, but more effective options are available.

151 patients were assigned to treatment for 8 weeks:

  • Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)-style acupuncture with manual stimulation for depression,
  • Nonspecific acupuncture, or
  • No treatment.
  • After 8 weeks, everybody got depression-specific acupuncture.

And the results

  • Both acupuncture groups did better than the group that got no treatment.
  • There was no significant difference in the rate of response between the acupuncture groups (22% and 39%) at 8 weeks.
  • After 16 weeks about half the patients responded to acupuncture.

The response to acupuncture is disappointing.

Dr. Irene says that major depression is a very treatable disease using antidepressants and/or cognitive behavioral therapy. The important thing is whether the response to any treatment can be maintained long-term. This study didn’t address that issue. You can visit Dr. Irene’s homepage here and website here.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness states, “Between 80% and 90% of those diagnosed with major depression can be effectively treated and return to their usual daily activities and feelings.” You can read their informative review with treatment options here.

2/17/07 14:30 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.