Shiatsu as an adjuvant therapy for depression in patients with Alzheimer's disease: A pilot study

Giuseppe Lanza, Stella Silvia Centonze, Gera Destro, Veronica Vella, Maria Bellomo, Manuela Pennisi, Rita Bella, Domenico Ciavardelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: 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. Design: Single-blind randomized controlled study. Setting: Dedicated Community Center for patients with AD. Interventions: 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. Results: 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. Conclusions: 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-78
Number of pages5
JournalComplementary Therapies in Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2018


  • Alternative medicine
  • Cognitive function
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Health services

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and Manual Therapy
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Advanced and Specialised Nursing


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