Many of us, an estimated 38 million US adults, have experienced depression at some point in our lives. Depression can be mild, or it can be severe and debilitating. Depression manifests with physical symptoms and emotional symptoms. According to the DSM-IV, emotional symptoms are constant sadness, irritability, hopelessness, feeling worthless or guilty for no reason, and loss of interest in favorite activities. Physical symptoms are trouble sleeping, low energy or fatigue, significant weight change, and difficulty concentrating.
Western medicine views depression as an imbalance in serotonin and norepinephrine, which are chemicals in the brain. Treatment includes anti-depressant pharmaceuticals that are designed to restore this imbalance in the brain. Today, 1 in 8 adults are taking an anti-depressant to treat their depression. Unfortunately, these medications are not without side effects. Long term use of these pharmaceuticals can result in the body building a tolerance to the drug so that a higher dose is required to relieve the depression. In some cases they just flat out don’t work. Many times when people exhaust their options of anti-depressant drugs and find that they either don’t work or don’t work anymore, they turn to acupuncture and Chinese herbs as a last resort.
Treating Depression with Acupuncture
Chinese medicine views depression as an imbalance in the body. Whether it is a deficiency of qi, blood, or an imbalance of yin or yang, there is a specific reason why the person is depressed. A lot of times depression is a direct result of an imbalance of qi, or the life flow of energy in the body, in the heart or liver meridians. Other symptoms can be insomnia, heart palpitations, irritability, nightmares, or anxiety. Can acupuncture and Chinese herbals work for treating depression? Absolutely! Not only can it, but it does beautifully and without the side effects of anti-depressant medications.
Treating Depression with Acupuncture and Chinese medicine resolves depression by balancing the mind, body, and spirit and the experience acupuncture provides is relaxing. Many people have turned their depression around using this system of medicine and if you are suffering from depression and looking for a more natural and gentle approach to treating it, I encourage you to give Chinese medicine a try.
By Amanda Carter
Board Certified Acupuncture Physician and Doctor of Oriental Medicine