The efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of major depression in women

John J.B. Allen, Rosa N. Schnyer, Sabrina K. Hitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


The effectiveness of acupuncture as a treatment for major depression was examined in 38 women, randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups. Specific treatment involved acupuncture treatments for symptoms of depression; nonspecific treatment involved acupuncture for symptoms that were not clearly part of depression; a wait-list condition involved waiting without treatment for 8 weeks. The nonspecific and wait-list conditions were followed by specific treatment. Five women terminated treatment prematurely, 4 prior to the completion of the first 8 weeks. Following treatments specifically designed to address depression, 64% of the women (n = 33) experienced full remission. A comparison of the acute effect of the three 8-week treatment conditions (n = 34) showed that patients receiving specific acupuncture treatments improved significantly more than those receiving the placebo-like nonspecific acupuncture treatments, and marginally more than those in the wait-list condition. Results from this small sample suggest that acupuncture can provide significant symptom relief in depression, at rates comparable to those of psychotherapy or pharmacotherapy. Acupuncture may hold sufficient promise to warrant a larger scale clinical trial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-401
Number of pages5
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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