Objective: The objective of this study is to evaluate the efficacy and safety of electroacupuncture treatment for post-stroke depression.
Methods: This study was a single-center, single-blinded, parallel-arm randomized controlled trial. In total, 65 patients with post-stroke depression were randomly allocated into electroacupuncture and sham electroacupuncture groups. Treatment was administered at Baihui (GV 20), Sishencong, Sanyinjiao (SP 6), Taichong (LV 3) and Ganshu (UB 18) in both groups. The electroacupuncture group received electroacupuncture treatment, while the sham electroacupuncture group received sham electroacupuncture treatment using the Park device. Treatment was given three times a week for 4 weeks.
The primary outcome was the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD). Secondary outcomes included the Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale (SDS), National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS), Barthel Daily Living Index (BI) and depression scale of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Primary and secondary outcomes were assessed at baseline, week 2 after treatment, week 4 after treatment and week 8 of follow-up. Safety assessment was conducted at each visit for 4 weeks of treatment.
Results: Significant differences in HRSD, SDS, NIHSS, BI and TCM scale scores were found in the electroacupuncture group before and after acupuncture treatment (all p < 0.001). Compared with the sham electroacupuncture group, HRSD scores improved significantly in the electroacupuncture group at the end of week 2 (F = 31.33, p < 0.001), week 4 (F = 35.58, p < 0.001) and week 8 after treatment onset (F = 25.03, p < 0.001). Similarly, significant improvements were observed in SDS, NIHSS and BI scores. Two participants in the electroacupuncture group suffered a local hematoma, while no adverse events were reported in the sham electroacupuncture group.
Conclusion: Electroacupuncture appears to be an efficacious and safe treatment for post-stroke depression. According to our results, electroacupuncture may alleviate depressive symptoms, and improve neurological function and capabilities with respect to activities of daily living (ADLs).