Electroacupuncture may aid depression-related insomnia

Electroacupuncture (EA) treatment is safe and effective for insomnia in patients with depression, according to a study published online July 7 in JAMA Network Open.

Xuan Yin, M.D., from Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and colleagues assessed the efficacy and safety of EA therapy for improving sleep quality and mental state for patients with insomnia and depression. The analysis included 270 patients randomly assigned to an eight-week intervention (EA treatment and standard care; sham acupuncture [SA] treatment and standard care; or standard care alone) plus 24-week observational follow-up.

At week 8, the researchers found significant differences in the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index score of −3.6 between the EA and SA groups and −5.1 between the EA and control groups. EA effectiveness was sustained during follow-up. During the eight-week intervention, there were significant improvements in the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (−10.7), Insomnia Severity Index (−7.6), and Self-rating Anxiety Scale (−2.9) scores and the total sleep time recorded in actigraphy (29.1 minutes) in the EA group. There were no between-group differences observed in the frequency of sleep awakenings, and no serious adverse events were reported.

“Our findings constitute subjective and objective evidence of the efficacy and safety of EA with standard care in treating comorbid depression and insomnia compared with SA with standard care or standard care alone,” the authors write.

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