Treating Depression with Traditional Chinese Medicine

By: Lynn Jaffee

What exactly is depression?

All of us at one time or another experience feelings of sadness, anxiety, discouragement, or hopelessness. These feelings are a healthy response to events in our lives that may feel overwhelming. When we are balanced and healthy, we are able to recover from these periodic bouts. However, if we are unable to recover, these feelings may persist and interfere with our daily living, indicating that depression has set in.

Depression can present with a host of symptoms. Among them are low energy, a persistent sad or empty mood, lack of motivation, insomnia, appetite changes, irritability, suicidal thoughts, and body aches and pains.

How is depression treated differently in Traditional Chinese Medicine than in modern medicine?

Within the framework of modern medicine, depression is most frequently treated with antidepressant and anti-anxiety drugs. In fact, in 1998 doctors wrote more than 130 million prescriptions for antidepressants. Antidepressant drugs are effective in treating the signs and symptoms of depression. However, these drugs may cause a number of side effects, such as insomnia, fatigue, rash, loss of appetite, sexual dysfunction, and many more. As a result, many people taking these drugs want to avoid using them long term, and seek out other therapies.

Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine have thousands of years of experience in treating depression. A person who is suffering from depression has an underlying imbalance in their body. Treatment is focused on correcting the imbalance, or the source of the problem, not just treating the outward symptoms.

What is out of balance?

Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine know that there is a strong relationship between the body and emotions. When we are upset emotionally, our internal environment also becomes upset, causing symptoms such as depression.

Depression can result from an imbalance or a blockage of Qi (energy) in one of the body’s organs or meridian pathways (energy pathways). When Qi becomes blocked, it stagnates and is unable to properly nourish the body. The result can be disease and emotional disturbance. A number of things can cause Qi to become blocked, including physical or emotional trauma, constitutionally weak Qi, improper diet, and stress.

How is depression be treated with Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Your practitioner may use a variety of modalities. Depending on your specific imbalance, he/she may use acupuncture, Chinese herbs, dietary therapy, bodywork, and lifestyle changes. It is possible also to treat depression with modern medicine and Traditional Chinese medicine. In many cases it is the quickest way to treat depression.

Is acupuncture safe?

Yes. When performed by a Licensed Acupuncturist, acupuncture is safe. It is also a natural, drug-free, and effective way to address depression.

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