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SSRI Therapy for Depression: Better With Acupuncture

Acupuncture Today December, 2021, Vol. 22, Issue 12

By Editorial Staff

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants, but their effectiveness can be improved with electroacupuncture, suggests new research.

Researchers evaluating 100 patients at Guangzhou First People's Hospital (China) diagnosed with major depressive disorder administered an SSRI (escitalopram) to half of the patients; and escitalopram plus electroacupuncture to the remaining half. Average patient age was 43.25 years, and treatment lasted six weeks.

All patients received 10 mg of escitalopram 1-2 times daily, depending on the severity of their condition; the acupuncture group also received electroacupuncture (EA) to two primary points: GV 20 (Baihui) and ST 36 (Zusanli); as well as supplementary points based on each patient's TCM symptom pattern. Each treatment lasted 45 minutes. Patients received six total treatment courses over the six-week study, with seven days constituting a single treatment course (daily treatment for two consecutive days, followed by two-day breaks).

Primary outcome measures improved significantly in the EA group vs. the drug-only group: Loewenstein Occupational Therapy Cognitive Assessment scores (which assesses basic cognitive skills for everyday function; and serum pro-inflammatory factors (which are typically elevated in patients with major depressive disorder): IL-2, IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α.


Gu Zhiwen, et al. Effect of electroacupuncture combined with escitalopram on cognitive function and serum inflammatory factor in patients with major depressive disorder. Shandong J Trad Med, 2021;40(9).


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