Electroacupuncture for residual insomnia associated with major depressive disorder: A randomized controlled trial

Wing Fai Yeung, Ka Fai Chung, Kwok Chu Tso, Shi Ping Zhang, Jin Zhang, Lai Ming Ho

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)


Study Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of electroacupuncture as an additional treatment for residual insomnia associated with major depressive disorder (MDD). Design: Randomized, placebo-controlled. Setting: A psychiatric outpatient clinic. Participants: 78 Chinese patients with DSM-IV-diagnosed MDD, insomnia complaint, a Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HDRS17) score ≤ 18, and fixed antidepressant dosage. Intervention: Electroacupuncture, minimal acupuncture (superficial needling at non-acupuncture points), or noninvasive placebo acupuncture 3 sessions weekly for 3 weeks. Measurements and Results: Insomnia Severity Index (ISI), Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), HDRS17, 1 week sleep diaries, and 3 day actigraphy were administered at baseline, 1 week post-treatment, and 4 week post-treatment. There was significant group by time interaction in ISI, PSQI, and sleep diary-derived sleep efficiency (mixed-effects models, P = 0.04, P = 0.03, and P = 0.01, respectively). Post hoc pairwise comparisons revealed that electroacupuncture and minimal acupuncture were more efficacious than placebo acupuncture in ISI and PSQI at 1 week and 4 week post-treatment. Minimal acupuncture resulted in greater improvement in sleep diary-derived sleep efficiency than placebo acupuncture at 1 week post-treatment. There was no significant between-group difference in actigraphy measures, depressive symptoms, daily functioning, and hypnotic consumption, and no difference in any measures between electroacupuncture and minimal acupuncture. Conclusion: Compared with placebo acupuncture, electroacupuncture and minimal acupuncture resulted in greater improvement in subjective sleep measures at 1 week and 4 week post-treatment. No significant difference was found between electroacupuncture and minimal acupuncture, suggesting that the observed differences could be due to nonspecific effects of needling, regardless of whether it is done according to traditional Chinese medicine theory. Clinical Trial Information: Acupuncture for Residual Insomnia Associated with Major Depressive Disorder; Registration #NCT00838994; URL - http://clinicaltrials.gov/ ct2/show/NCT00838994?term = NCT00838994&rank = 1.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)807-815
Number of pages9
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Acupuncture
  • Electroacupuncture
  • Insomnia
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Randomized controlled trial
  • Residual insomnia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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