If you’re feeling low, or stuck in a bit of a hole, you’re definitely not alone. Unfortunately depression is very common – more than 16% of us can expect to experience it at some point in our lives, making it the fourth leading cause of disability worldwide. And if you’re experiencing chronic pain, unfortunately your risk of depression may be as high as 50%.
Acupuncture for pain-related depression
Chronic pain is a horrible situation to be in, and it can really get you down. We probably all know someone with chronic back pain, who is also suffering with their mood.
I was happy to see though, that a 2021 study concluded, after analysing the results of eight randomised controlled trials, that acupuncture can be helpful for people who are suffering in this way:
“Depression and pain are the most common psychological and physical symptoms in primary care, respectively … Pain has a negative impact on the prognosis and treatment of depression and vice versa. There is a significant correlation between the severity of pain and the degree of depression.”
“… compared with drug treatment, single acupuncture treatment has the same effect in reducing pain and relieving symptoms of depression in patients with CPRD [chronic pain-related depression] … In addition, acupuncture combined with drug therapy has a better effect than a single drug.”Extracts from a 2021 systematic review and metanalysis of acupuncture for acupuncture for chronic pain-related depression
The researchers also looked at whether any conclusions could be drawn about the safety of acupuncture in this context, and said:
“… single acupuncture treatment has a lower incidence of adverse events compared to oral drugs. Therefore, we can cautiously recommend that acupuncture is a safe treatment for CPRD [chronic pain-related depression].”
Although it’s worth noting, as is so common with acupuncture research, that the study also concluded that more research is needed:
“… due to the insufficient number of included studies, low methodological quality, and heterogeneity of results, further studies using large- and high-quality samples are needed to confirm the role of acupuncture for CPRD.”
Acupuncture for your pain-related depression
Jianyu You, Haiyan Li, Dingyi Xie, Rixin Chen, Mingren Chen, “Acupuncture for Chronic Pain-Related Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis”, Pain Research and Management, vol. 2021, Article ID 6617075, 10 pages, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1155/2021/6617075