Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Treatment of Depression
Depression, despair, melancholy and other mood disorders are more frequently experienced in our culture than ever before. Occasionally feeling sad or unhappy is a common, natural occurrence for most people; unhappiness can become a more serious mental emotional condition when it turns into a constant sense of sadness and despair. Major depression affects nearly 10% of Canadian population, and three million people annually. 10-25% of women and 5-12% of men will experience clinical depression in their lifetimes. Depression can have a very damaging effect on personal and professional relationships. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine treat the underlying causes of depression rather than simply treating the symptoms
Types of Depression
The major types of depression include
- Major Depressive Disorder
- Dysthymic Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Cyclothymic Disorder
- Mood Disorder Due to a General Medical Condition
- Substance-Induced Mood Disorder
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
- Postpartum Depression
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
Although each of these conditions varies from person to person, many of these symptoms are common to all:
- Feelings of sadness, melancholy, helplessness and hopelessness
- Loss of interest in daily activities and previously enjoyable activities
- Overeating, appetite or weight disorders and changes
- Insomnia and sleep pattern changes
- Moodiness, irritability and anger
- Fatigue and loss of energy
- Feelings of despair and self-loathing
- Reckless, irresponsible behaviour
- Focus, memory , concentration and decision-making difficulty
- Body pain and aches
Anti-depressant drugs have become widely available and are in use by a significant portion of the population. Many of these drugs have serious side effects and some people find the drugs worse than the depression itself. Drugs only manage the symptoms of depression; once the patient stops taking them the depression usually returns. Chinese medicine and acupuncture work to treat the underlying cause of depression for a permanent cure.
How does Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture treat Depression?
Mental depression is experienced in the mind but is often the result of imbalances in the body. Traditional Chinese medicine has developed treatments based on herbs, diet, acupuncture and lifestyle changes to correct the imbalances in the body that are contributing to the symptoms of depression. Chinese medicine has identified several patterns of imbalance in the body that cause depression. Chinese medicine practitioners will make a diagnosis and treat the pattern with a comprehensive holistic approach that includes acupuncture, herbs, diet and lifestyle advice.
How effective is Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine at treating Depression?
A University of Arizona study on acupuncture and depression funded by the NIH in 1998 found that a group of severely depressed women experienced a 43% reduction in their symptoms (over 22% in the placebo group). Over 50% of the group were no longer clinically depressed. The acupuncture treatments were as effective as drugs and psychotherapy.
NIH Acupuncture and Depression study – The Efficacy of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Major Depression in Women
Combining acupuncture with herbal, dietary and lifestyle counselling can further improve the results of depression treatment. These types of treatments also treat the cause of the disease and offer better long term recovery prospects.
Chinese Medicine Lifestyle and Diet Tips for Depression
Stagnancy in the liver is one of the main causes of depression in Chinese medicine. Exercise helps to reduce liver stagnation and releases endorphins that help with mood. There are many simple food remedies for reducing minor depression symptoms related to liver imbalance.
Chinese Medicine Food Remedies for Depression
- brown rice
- fresh wheat germ
- kudzu root
- wild blue-green algae (Aphanizomenon flos-acque) (1.5 grams per serving)
- apple cider vinegar (1 teapsoon per serving)
Include one or two of these foods in a meal to assist with acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments for depression.