Acupuncture for Treating Anxiety and Depression in Women: A Clinical Systematic Review

Med Acupunct. 2013 Jun;25(3):164-172. doi: 10.1089/acu.2012.0900.


Background: Anxiety and depression are high in prevalence, especially in the female population, whose incidence is approximately double that of the male population. In addition, these conditions are difficult to treat and have high relapse rates and medication side-effects. There is evidence to suggest that acupuncture may be an effective treatment modality.

Objective: The aim of this review is to summarize the existing evidence on acupuncture as a therapy for anxiety and depression in women and to present a novel method for assessing acupuncture trial quality.

Methods: Published randomized controlled trials were included, whereby acupuncture was compared with any control procedure in subjects with anxiety and/or depression. Two authors extracted data independently. A novel acupuncture trial quality-assessment tool was developed to analyze the literature quality.

Results: Six articles used the desired inclusion and exclusion criteria. The quality of research varied heavily. Five studies were properly randomized. Three were double-blinded. Three used individualized acupuncture. Four studies were of at least reasonable quality. One was of marginal quality, and one was of poor quality. There was a significant difference between acupuncture and at least one control in all six trials.

Conclusions: With respect to six reviewed studies, there is high-level evidence to support the use of acupuncture for treating major depressive disorder in pregnancy.

Keywords: Acupuncture; Anxiety; Complementary and Alternative Medicine; Depression; Depressive Disorders; Female; Integrative Medicine; Pregnancy; Systematic; Women.

Publication types

  • Review