Acupuncture is More Effective for Depression than Usual Care Alone

Acupuncture is more effective for depression than usual care alone.

Researchers at the University of York conducting a randomised trial of 755 patients, have found that acupuncture plus usual care is significantly more effective for depression, compared with usual care alone.

Patients were recruited from 27 North of England GP practices, all having consulted their GP for moderate-to-severe depression in the preceding five years. They were randomised to receive up to 12 weekly sessions of acupuncture plus usual care (302 patients), up to 12 weekly sessions of counselling plus usual care (302 patients), or usual care alone (151 patients). Usual care, including anti-depressants, was available according to need, and monitored in all three groups; at the outset, 69% of patients were taking anti-depressants, and nearly half were taking painkillers.

Compared to usual care alone, there was a significant improvement in symptoms at both 3 and 6 months for both the acupuncture and counselling interventions. Painkiller use by the acupuncture group showed a particularly marked decrease during the trial, but this was not sustained at follow-up.

(Acupuncture and Counselling for Depression in Primary Care: A Randomised Controlled Trial. PLOS Medicine, September 2013.