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Neurotrophic Stimulation Therapy for the Management of Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression: A Review of the Clinical Effectiveness

Last updated: August 20, 2015
Project Number: RC0686-000
Product Line: Rapid Response
Research Type: Devices and Systems
Report Type: Summary with Critical Appraisal
Result type: Report


  1. What is the clinical effectiveness of neurotrophic stimulation therapy for the management of depressive disorder?
  2. What is the clinical effectiveness of neurotrophic stimulation therapy for the management of generalized anxiety disorder?

Key Message

Evidence addressing the clinical effectiveness of neurotrophic stimulation therapy was limited to acupuncture or transcranial direct current stimulation in depression and acupuncture or cranial electrotherapy stimulation in anxiety. Evidence for other components was not identified in the literature search. Two systematic reviews and one randomized controlled trial demonstrated that transcranial direct current stimulation reduced symptoms of depression and improved rates of response and remission over 6 months of follow-up in patients with major depressive disorder. The benefits of acupuncture on depressive symptoms were evaluated in four systematic reviews and six randomized controlled trials. Reduction in symptoms of depression was inconsistently demonstrated across the included studies. One systematic review demonstrated that acupuncture may have positive effects in patients with anxiety disorders. One randomized controlled trial demonstrated a reduction in symptoms of anxiety and depression with cranial electrotherapy stimulation in patients with anxiety disorders over 5 weeks of follow-up.