Systematic Reviews
Copyright ©The Author(s) 2022. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Psychiatry. Jan 19, 2022; 12(1): 169-186
Published online Jan 19, 2022. doi: 10.5498/wjp.v12.i1.169
Impacts of acupressure treatment on depression: A systematic review and meta-analysis
Jingxia Lin, Tianhao Chen, Jiali He, Raymond CK Chung, Haixia Ma, HWH Tsang
Jingxia Lin, Tianhao Chen, Jiali He, Raymond CK Chung, Haixia Ma, HWH Tsang, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong 00852, China
Jingxia Lin, HWH Tsang, Mental Health Research Centre, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong 00852, China
Author contributions: Lin J acquisition of data, analysis and interpretation of data, drafting the article, final approval; Chen T acquisition of data, analysis of data, drafting the results, final approval; He J acquisition of data, quality and risk of bias assessment, drafting the introduction, final approval; Chung RC analysis and interpretation of data, final approval; Ma H results interpretation and critical revision; Tsang H conception and design of the study, critical revision, final approval.
Conflict-of-interest statement: All the authors have no conflict-of-interest.
PRISMA 2009 Checklist statement: The authors have read the PRISMA 2009 Checklist, and the manuscript was prepared and revised according to the PRISMA 2009 Checklist.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article that was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:
Corresponding author: HWH Tsang, PhD, Chair Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong 00852, China.
Received: April 27, 2021
Peer-review started: April 27, 2021
First decision: June 17, 2021
Revised: July 18, 2021
Accepted: November 26, 2021
Article in press: November 26, 2021
Published online: January 19, 2022

Depression is recognized as a major public health problem with a substantial impact on individuals and society. Complementary therapies such as acupressure may be considered a safe and cost-effective treatment for people with depression. An increasing body of research has been undertaken to assess the effectiveness of acupressure in various populations with depression, but the evidence thus far is inconclusive.


To examine the efficacy of acupressure on depression.


A systematic literature search was performed on PubMed, PsycINFO, Scopus, Embase, MEDLINE, and China National Knowledge (CNKI). Randomized clinical trials (RCTs) or single-group trials in which acupressure was compared with control methods or baseline in people with depression were included. Data were synthesized using a random-effects or a fixed-effects model to analyze the impacts of acupressure treatment on depression and anxiety in people with depression. The primary outcome measures were set for depression symptoms. Subgroups were created, and meta-regression analyses were performed to explore which factors are relevant to the greater or lesser effects of treating symptoms.


A total of 14 RCTs (1439 participants) were identified. Analysis of the between-group showed that acupressure was effective in reducing depression [Standardized mean differences (SMDs) = -0.58, 95%CI: -0.85 to -0.32, P < 0.0001] and anxiety (SMD = -0.67, 95%CI: -0.99 to -0.36, P < 0.0001) in participants with mild-to-moderate primary and secondary depression. Subgroup analyses suggested that acupressure significantly reduced depressive symptoms compared with different controlled conditions and in participants with different ages, clinical conditions, and duration of intervention. Adverse events, including hypotension, dizziness, palpitation, and headache, were reported in one study.


The evidence of acupressure for mild-to-moderate depressive symptoms was significant. Importantly, the findings should be interpreted with caution due to study limitations. Future research with a well-designed mixed method is required to consolidate the conclusion and provide an in-depth understanding of potential mechanisms underlying the effects.

Keywords: Acupressure, Depression, Mild-to-moderate depressive symptoms, Systematic review, Meta-analysis

Core Tip: Acupressure is effective on mild-to-moderate depressive symptoms. However, no confirmed evidence is available about the impacts of acupressure on patients with severe depressive disorders. This is the first study investigating the impacts of acupressure on depression among clinical and general populations.