Depression has a tendency to rear its head when we feel overwhelmed or out of balance. Hopefully, we can pull ourselves out of the depressed state and continue on with everyday life. But, that is not always the case. Clinical depression affects upwards of 16 million adults in the United States. Typically, doctors prescribe antidepressants, but alternative methods, like acupuncture, work just as effectively as antidepressants without any negative side effects.
Whereas antidepressants address the symptoms of depression and ignore the root causes, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can help alleviate symptoms of depression while also attacking the root cause(s). In this way, TCM brings the body and mind back into balance. Rather than ignoring the connection between the body and mind, acupuncturists approach treatment from a holistic standpoint. When we experience emotional challenges and upset, our physical body may become affected as well. Then a vicious cycle begins, because the emotions are greatly impacted by what we can and cannot do physically.
Long term imbalances in both our physical bodies and our minds can lead to a state of depression. This depression affects our qi (pronounced “chee”), or vital energy. Qi animates the body while guarding it from pain and illness. When Qi is blocked and unable to flow properly throughout the body and mind, stagnation is created which can lead to depression. Acupuncture helps to unblock these areas of stagnation, allowing qi to flow freely again. When the qi flows freely, physical pain and mental anguish will dissipate over time and the depression will lift.
For those who suffer with severe depression, acupuncture may not be enough. This is where other elements of TCM come into play. Things such as herbal formulas can be excellent additives for helping people cope with depression. There are several Chinese herbal formulas that work very well. One of the most commonly used formulas is Chai Hu Shu Gan San. This formula contains things like white peony root, tangerine peels and bitter orange that help boost or tonify the qi. Many times, natural remedies are a better choice for those suffering from depression, as there are far fewer side effects than found in prescription pharmaceuticals.
Techniques like tai chi or qi gong are other ways to help battle depression naturally. Tai chi and qi gong bring the body and mind back into balance by decreasing stress and allowing the person performing it to focus all of their intentions on the movements. This allows the mind to relax, which in turn relaxes the body. Tai chi and qi gong also increase oxygen flow into the muscles, allowing for increased mobility.
If you are somebody who suffers from depression and you are looking for natural, holistic solutions, TCM may be the right choice for you.