Acupuncture for Mental Health

Acupuncture for Mental Health.

Chronic stress, anxiety and depression are the most common and disabling mental health concerns in modern society. They are often experienced as a complex set of emotional, physical and behavioural symptoms.

People with anxiety disorder frequently experience unpleasant feelings of worry or fear accompanied by physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, muscle aches, digestive complaints, trembling, irritability, sweating and hot flashes.

Depression is characterised by low energy, mood and low self-esteem, poor concentration, negative thoughts and emotions, and loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities. Appetite, body weight and sleep are also commonly affected.

What Does The Research Say?

The following insights are obtained from systematic reviews and analysis of clinical trials investigating the efficacy of acupuncture for mental health.

Consult with our practitioners for personalised care and advice.

Although well-conducted clinical research can help members of the public to make better-informed decisions about their healthcare, we do not make any claims that any particular treatment may be efficacious for any individual person.

When you consult with our Chinese medicine practitioners, you'll receive personalised advice and treatment based on your symptoms and Chinese medicine diagnosis.

Scientific References

Browse our collection of scientific clinical research on acupuncture for mental health.

It includes recent and reputable papers published by peer-reviewed journals within the last 10 years.



Annals of General Psychiatry

2021, Jan 30

Effectiveness of acupuncture on anxiety disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials
Annals of General Psychiatry International Society of Neurobiology and Psychopharmacology

The study suggest that acupuncture therapy showed beneficial effects in reducing anxiety in patients with anxiety disorder. It indicated that acupuncture is more effective than western medicine. It also further suggests that acupuncture works better in earlier stages.

Yang, Xy., Yang, Nb., Huang, Ff. et al. Full Article

Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment

2020, Dec

Long-Term Beneficial Effects of Acupuncture with Reduced Risk of Depression Development Following Trigeminal Neuralgia: A Nationwide Population-Based Cohort Study
Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment

The systematic review and meta-analysis also concluded that the therapeutic efficacy of acupuncture is highly effective alone and combined with antidepressant medication.

Liao CC, Lin CL, Liao KR, Li JM Full Article

Current Medical Science

2019, Jun 17

Effectiveness of Acupuncture for Alzheimer’s Disease: An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
Current Medical Science Huazhong University of Science and Technology

In most of the studies assessed in the current meta-analysis, acupuncture alone was better than conventional western medicines for the treatment of AD.

Huang, Q., Luo, D., Chen, L. et al. Full Article

Frontiers in Psychiatry

2019, Feb 12

The Effects of Acupuncture on Glutamatergic Neurotransmission in Depression, Anxiety, Schizophrenia, and Alzheimer's Disease: A Review of the Literature
Frontiers in Psychiatry

We conclude that the treatment effects of acupuncture may be underpinned by its intervention in the dysregulated glutamate system. Further preclinical and clinical studies are needed to clarify the possible mechanisms of acupuncture in these neuropsychiatric disorders and to establish protocols for treatment guidelines.

Cheng-Hao Tu, Iona MacDonald, Yi-Hung Chen Full Article

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

2018, Jan 4

Acupuncture for depression
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews Cochrane

We found low-quality evidence suggesting that acupuncture (manual and electro-) may moderately reduce the severity of depression by end of treatment. Acupuncture may be associated with a small reduction in the severity of depression of 1.69 points on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD) by end of treatment.

Smith CA, Armour M, Lee MS, Wang LQ, Hay PJ. Full Article

Journal of Trauma & Dissociation

2017, Mar 9

Acupuncture for the Treatment of Adults with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Journal of Trauma & Dissociation International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation

The included low-quality studies suggest that acupuncture effectively treats PTSD symptoms post-intervention, especially with longer follow-up (up to 6months) and no significant evidence on depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, and sleep quality.

Grant, S., Colaiaco, B., Motala, A., Shanman, R., Sorbero, M., & Hempel, S. Full Article

Programme Grants for Applied Research

2017, Jan

Acupuncture, Counselling or Usual Care for Depression (ACUDep): a randomised controlled trial
Programme Grants for Applied Research NHS National Institutes for Health Research

Our evidence on acupuncture compared with usual care and counselling compared with usual care shows that both treatments are associated with a statistically significant reduction in symptoms of depression in the short to medium term, with no reported serious adverse events related to treatment. Acupuncture is cost-effective compared with counselling or usual care alone, although the ranking of counselling and acupuncture depends on the relative costs of delivering these interventions.

MacPherson H, Vickers A, Bland M, et al. Full Article

The Brazilian Journal of Nursing

2016, Jun

Effects from acupuncture in treating anxiety: integrative review
The Brazilian Journal of Nursing Brazilian Nursing Association

Acupuncture seems to be a promising treatment for anxiety; however, there is a need for improving the methodological quality of the research on this field.

Goyata SL, Avelino CC, Santos SV, Souza Junior DI, Gurgel MD, Terra FS Full Article

Explore: The Journal of Science & Healing

2015, Jul

Schizophrenia and Depression: A systematic Review of the Effectiveness and the Working Mechanisms Behind Acupuncture
Explore: The Journal of Science & Healing

From the evidence found in this study, acupuncture seems to be an effective add-on treatment in patients with depression and, to a lesser degree, in patients with schizophrenia, but large well-designed studies are needed to confirm that evidence.

Bosch P, van den Noort M, Staudte H, Lim S. Full Article

Medical Care

2014, Dec

Randomized effectiveness trial of a brief course of acupuncture for posttraumatic stress disorder
Medical Care American Public Health Association

Acupuncture was effective for reducing PTSD symptoms. Limitations included small sample size and inability to parse specific treatment mechanisms. Acupuncture is a novel therapeutic option that may help to improve population reach of PTSD treatment.

Engel CC, Cordova EH, Benedek DM, Liu X, Gore KL, Goertz C, et al. Full Article

PLOS One

2014, Nov

Cost-effectiveness analysis of acupuncture, counselling and usual care in treating patients with depression: the results of the ACUDep trial
PLOS One Public Library of Science

The clinical results of the trails demonstrated that acupuncture and counselling significantly reduced depression measures at 3 and 6 months when compared with routine care. It was also reported to have improvement over the 12 month period. It also further showcase that acupuncture is cost-effective (in the UK) compared with counselling or usual care alone.

Spackman, E., Richmond, S., Sculpher, M., Bland, M., Brealey, S., Gabe, R., Hopton, A., Keding, A., Lansdown, H., Perren, S., Torgerson, D., Watt, I., & MacPherson, H. Full Article

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

2014, Oct

Acupuncture for schizophrenia
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews Cochrane

Limited evidence suggests that acupuncture may have some antipsychotic effects as measured on global and mental state with few adverse effects. Better designed large studies are needed to fully and fairly test the effects of acupuncture for people with schizophrenia

Shen X, Xia J, Adams CE. Full Article

Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics

2014, Mar 06

Current evidence regarding the management of mood and anxiety disorders using complementary and alternative medicine
Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics

The systematic review showcase the efficacy of acupuncture in improving anxiety, depression and bipolar disorders. Patients reported to have reduced pre-procedure anxiety and anxiety disorders. The treatments were also found to have been beneficial with behavioral desensitization for anxiety neurosis.

Anthony J Bazzan, George Zabrecky, Daniel A Monti & Andrew B Newberg Full Article

American Journal On Addictions

2014, Mar

Acupuncture and relaxation response for craving and anxiety reduction among military veterans in recovery from substance use disorder
American Journal On Addictions American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry

The study indicated that acupuncture is highly effective with increasing relaxation response for military veterans. It showed that both craving and anxiety levels continued to drop as study participants seek long term therapy. It also showed the importance for the care of military personnel and for veterans who have recently returned from active duty.

Chang, B. H., & Sommers, E. Full Article

Journal of Psychology & Psychotherapy

2013, Jul

Acupuncture for Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A Systematic Review
Journal of Psychology & Psychotherapy

This systematic review showcase the efficacy of acupuncture in treating generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Patients reported to have less or no side effects compared to having pharmaceutical drugs

Rui Ma, Shujun Xu, Xiuyun Wen,Qian Wu,Yanan Wu, Yefei Huang and Wenbin Fu Full Article

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

2013, Feb

Acupuncture for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials and Prospective Clinical Trials
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

This systematic review indicated the efficacy of acupuncture for PTSD patients. Patients reported to have better outcomes compared to drug therapy in particular selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). There were less side effects for non-SSRI group and considered a safe treatment for long term therapy.

Young-Dae Kim, In Heo, Byung-Cheul Shin, Cindy Crawford, Hyung-Won Kang, Jung-Hwa Lim, Full Article

European Journal of Integrative Medicine

2011, Dec

Acupuncture treatment for depression—A systematic review and meta-analysis
European Journal of Integrative Medicine

Current evidence from this meta-analysis of randomized trials shows that acupuncture is effective in reducing severity of depression and that TCM- and electro acupuncture may have similar effect as current usual care.

Trine Stub, Terje Alræk, Jianping Liu Full Article


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