Beating Depression

With winter abating and the onset of spring, we expect symptoms of depression to be blown away by the warm breezes, but often this is not the case. Depression is defined in the medical dictionary as a temporary mental state or chronic mental disorder. Depression is not a new health problem. With our extended life span and increasingly stressful lives, we are seeing more cases of depression than ever before. In some instances it only lasts a few days, but in serious cases, it may last months or even years. There are about 20 million people in the US suffering from depression. It is twice as common in women as in men. Most illnesses that we see have a side effect of light depression.

The symptoms of depression include chronic fatigue, low sex drive, sleep disturbances (insomnia, excessive sleep, or frequent waking at night), changes in appetite (poor appetite may result as weight loss, and excessive appetite may lead to overweight), headaches, backaches, stomachache, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, restlessness, irritability, fits of temper, crying, loss of pleasure in hobbies, excessive worry, poor concentration, withdrawal from society, loss of interest, and lethargy, and feelings of worthlessness. This may even lead to suicide. Depression involves the entire body. It affects self-perception and perceptions of others’ actions and motivations. It influences the depressed person, their co-workers, friends, families, and society in general. There are many and varied reasons that cause depression.

In spite of the wide spread incidences of depression, it is still little understood. Western medicine believes that it may be related to tension, stress, or the side effects of taking drugs. Genetics are to be considered a factor along with traumatic life events, chemical imbalances, thyroid disorders, hormone imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, Sugar consumption, mononucleosis, lack of exercise, endometriosis, upset stomach, headache, plus many other serious physical disorders or allergies.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is holistic and looks at depression from a different angle. Except for the external and genetic reasons, TCM holds the opinion that foods play a very important role, because the foods we eat greatly influence the brain’s behavior. The brain controls functions such as attitude and movement. The chemicals regulating brain function are supplied by foods we eat.

Foods must rely on the organs to convert them into nutrition and chemicals for bodily functions. The organ’s Chi (vital energy) is as important as the quality of foods. Although many people know the proper foods to eat, many ignore their organs’ Chi, so they become depressed even if they eat the correct foods.

Acupuncture is one of the best solutions for depression., because it affects the nervous system, regulates digestive and endocrine systems and balances body, mind and spirit. Other than acupuncture, I also suggest doing Yin and Yang exercises such as Tai Chi, Qi Gong, walking or slow running at least one hour per day. This is good for healing or preventing depression. Singing is good for healing, as well as preventing depression. Avoiding refined sugar and alcohol, staying away from drugs and surrounding oneself with warm bright colors is highly recommended. It is necessary to get plenty of sunshine, too!

Different people have different body conditions, although all may be diagnosed with depression. TCM treats each person with an individual method. If one feels depressed, it is good to consult with a TCM doctor and follow the advice above, otherwise, the depression may become more serious and have a longer recovery time. Summer and autumn are good seasons to get acupuncture on schedule to avoid depression.

By Li Hua L.Ac., TCMD at Atlanta Acupuncture Center


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