New Research – Shiatsu as an adjuvant therapy for depression in patients with Alzheimer’s disease: A pilot study

May 18th, 2018 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn News


• We first evaluated the effect of Shiatsu in depressed patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
• Shiatsu significantly reduced depression in a sample of mild-to-moderate AD patients.
• Neuroendocrine-mediated effect of Shiatsu may modulate mood and affect neural circuits.



Among the complementary and alternative medicine, Shiatsu might represent a feasible option for depression in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We evaluated Shiatsu on mood, cognition, and functional independence in patients undergoing physical activity.


Single-blind randomized controlled study.


Dedicated Community Center for patients with AD.


AD patients with depression were randomly assigned to the “active group” (Shiatsu + physical activity) or the “control group” (physical activity alone). Shiatsu was performed by the same therapist once a week for ten months.

Main outcome measures

Global cognitive functioning (Mini Mental State Examination – MMSE), depressive symptoms (Geriatric Depression Scale – GDS), and functional status (Activity of Daily Living – ADL, Instrumental ADL – IADL) were assessed before and after the intervention.


We found a within-group improvement of MMSE, ADL, and GDS in the active group. However, the analysis of differences before and after the interventions showed a statistically significant decrease of GDS score only in the active group.


The combination of Shiatsu and physical activity improved depression in AD patients compared to physical activity alone. The pathomechanism might involve neuroendocrine-mediated effects of Shiatsu on neural circuits implicated in mood and affect regulation.


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