A meta-analysis of acupuncture for various depressive conditions has concluded that it constitutes an effective treatment for some forms of depression.Twenty studies were subjected to meta-ananysis. The results showed that the efficacy of acupuncture used alone was comparable to antidepressants in improving clinical response and alleviating symptom severity. Acupuncture was also found to be superior to antidepressants and waiting-list controls in improving both response and symptom severity of post-stroke depression.
(The effectiveness and safety of acupuncture therapy in depressive disorders: Systematic review and meta-analysis. J Affect Disord. 2009 Jul 24. [Epub ahead of print]).
Insomnia is very common and has the effect of aggravating almost any condition. Often found with anxiety and depression, improving sleep may be enough to cause the other symptoms to improve also. Clinically we give its treatment a high priority.
In a study by Lee (1) were patients reported severe insomnia as a chief complaint; no patient slept more than 3-4 hours per night. Patients were given ear acupuncture 3 times per week with a typical duration of 10-12 initial treatments, followed by a 2- to 4-week observational period; 15 of 16 patients had regimens of 15 treatments or fewer; 1 patient received 28 treatments total. Therapeutic effects were still present 3 months following the conclusion of treatment.
In a study of outpatients in his department, Fischer (2) reported similarly encouraging results: 100% of patients treated for insomnia obtained benefit without recurrences within 18 months of follow-up.
Montakab and Langel(3) diagnosed 40 patients using Chinese traditional diagnosis and performed polysomnographic analyses of true acupuncture vs control needled patients. Objective change was noted and found statistically significant in the true acupuncture group.
Acupuncture has been found to be an effective therapeutic tool in the treatment of HIV-infected patients with sleep disruption syndromes. Sleep pattern is disrupted in all stages of HIV disease. In a study by Phillips and Skelton,(4) sleep quality significantly improved with acupuncture treatment after 5 weeks. Participants in the study were screened with a self-report questionnaire for sleep disruption; only those with severe to moderate disruption were eligible. Wrist actigraph analysis (which detects motion and sleep monitoring at home), current sleep quality index as a self-report score, and a visual analog scale of pain rating were used to assess patient responses to treatment. Acupuncture was performed 2 times weekly for 5 weeks. Acupuncture treatment was individualized based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and was reassessed during treatment. Auricular and body points were used. Statistically significant pre- and post-treatment values were noted for amount of sleep, time awake, and sleep quality.
(1) Lee TN. Lidocaine injection of auricular points in the treatment of insomnia. Am J Chin Med. 1977;5:71-77.
(2) Fischer MV. Acupuncture therapy in the outpatients-department of the University Clinic Heidelberg [in German]. Anaesthesist. 1982;31:25-32.
(3) Montakab H, Langel G. The effect of acupuncture in the treatment of insomnia: clinical study of subjective and objective evaluation [in French]. Schweiz Med Wochenschr Suppl. 1994;62:49-54.
(4) Phillips KD, Skelton WD. Effects of individualized acupuncture on sleep quality in HIV disease. J Assoc Nurses AIDS Care. 2001;12:27-39.
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