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Neurotrophic Stimulation Therapy for the Management of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Substance Abuse Disorders: A Review of the Clinical Effectiveness

Last updated: July 20, 2015
Project Number: RC0681-000
Product Line: Rapid Response
Research Type: Devices and Systems
Report Type: Summary with Critical Appraisal
Result type: Report

Question

  1. What is the clinical effectiveness of neurotrophic stimulation therapy for the management of post-traumatic stress disorder?
  2. What is the clinical effectiveness of neurotrophic stimulation therapy for the management of substance abuse disorders?

Key Message

Evidence addressing the clinical effectiveness of neurotrophic stimulation therapy was limited to acupuncture in post-traumatic stress disorder and acupuncture or transcranial direct current stimulation in substance use disorders. Evidence for other components was not identified in the literature search. One systematic review and two randomized controlled trial demonstrated that acupuncture reduced symptoms of PTSD over 6 months of follow up. Two small randomized controlled trials demonstrated that compared to control or usual care, acupuncture significantly reduced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety or depression. No significant difference was found in symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or anxiety when acupuncture was compared to cognitive behavioral therapy or pharmacotherapy. Studies reported contradictory results for the effectiveness of acupuncture on craving in patients with substance abuse disorders. One small randomized controlled trial demonstrated that transcranial direct current stimulation reduced relapse rates in patients with alcohol dependence.