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Dense cranial electroacupuncture stimulation for major depressive disorder--a single-blind, randomized, controlled study




Previous studies suggest that electroacupuncture possesses therapeutic benefits for depressive disorders. The purpose of this study was to determine whether dense cranial electroacupuncture stimulation (DCEAS) could enhance the antidepressant efficacy in the early phase of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD).


In this single-blind, randomized, controlled study, patients with MDD were randomly assigned to 9-session DCEAS or noninvasive electroacupuncture (n-EA) control procedure in combination with fluoxetine (FLX) for 3 weeks. Clinical outcomes were measured using the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD-17), Clinical Global Impression-severity (CGI-S), and Self-rating Depression Scale (SDS) as well as the response and remission rates.


Seventy-three patients were randomly assigned to n-EA (n = 35) and DCEAS (n = 38), of whom 34 in n-EA and 36 in DCEAS group were analyzed. DCEAS-treated patients displayed a significantly greater reduction from baseline in HAMD-17 scores at Day 3 through Day 21 and in SDS scores at Day 3 and Day 21 compared to patients receiving n-EA. DCEAS intervention also produced a higher rate of clinically significant response compared to n-EA procedure (19.4% (7/36) vs. 8.8% (3/34)). The incidence of adverse events was similar in the two groups.


DCEAS is a safe and effective intervention that augments the antidepressant efficacy. It can be considered as an additional therapy in the early phase of SSRI treatment of depressed patients.

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