DESCRIPTION: A disease, not just a state of mind, that affects 30% of people at some time in their life. Patients are not able to pull themselves together and overcome the depression without medical aid, although a determination to improve the situation helps the outcome.

CAUSE: An imbalance of chemicals (that normally occur in the brain to control mood.) If too much of one chemical is produced, the patient becomes depressed – if too much of another, the patient becomes manic. It may be associated with hormonal changes that occur during a woman’s menstrual cycle or with menopause.

SYMPTOMS: There are two types of depression with different causes:

There are two types of depression with different causes

Endogenous depression – no obvious reason for the constant unhappiness, and patients slowly become sadder and sadder, more irritable, unable to sleep, lose appetite and weight, and feel there is no purpose in living. They may feel unnecessarily guilty, have a very poor opinion of themselves, feel life is hopeless and find it difficult to think or concentrate. They usually improve after several months, however, some patients will go far the other way and become over-happy or manic. These patients are said to be manic depressive, have bipolar personality (generally severe swings of mood) or cyclothymic disorder (milder mood changes).

Reactive depression – the sadness that occurs after a death in the family, loss of a job, a marriage break-up or other disaster. Patients are depressed for a definite reason, and with time, will be often be able to cope with the situation, although some patients do require medical help.

INVESTIGATIONS: No diagnostic blood tests or brain scans, and diagnosis depend on the clinical acumen of the doctor.

WESTERN TREATMENT: Numerous medications that control the production or activity of the depressing chemicals in the brain are available (eg. Prozac, Aropax, Zoloft, Sinequan, Prothiaden, Efexor, Serzone), but most antidepressant drugs work slowly over several weeks. Hospitalisation in order to use high doses of drugs or other treatments, and to protect the patient from the possibility of suicide, is sometimes necessary when the disease is first diagnosed. The other form of treatment used is shock therapy (electroconvulsive therapy – ECT), which is a safe and often very effective method of giving relief to patients with severe chronic depression.

COMPLICATIONS: Untreated depression may lead to attempted or actual suicide, which can be seen as a desperate plea for help.
PROGNOSIS: Medication and counselling by a general practitioner or psychiatrist will control the vast majority of cases.

Chinese medicine incorporates centuries of experience in dealing with depression. The first medical book, The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine, which was written 2300 years ago, contained theories on the origins of depression. In Chinese medicine, mental or emotional problems such as depression are attributed to an imbalance or blockage in one or more of the internal organs (Zang Fu) and the energy pathways (meridians) that pertain to them. Some common patterns that can manifest as depression are Liver Qi (energy) Stagnation, Spleen Qi (energy) Deficiency, Kidney Essence Deficiency, or Lung and Heart meridian disorder. Generally, illness started by experiencing an imbalance in one organ or meridian. Untreated, or improperly treated, the disorder will spread, involving other organs and meridians. Chinese medical doctors emphasize early diagnosis and early preventive treatment of imbalances.

Traditional Chinese medicine, including acupuncture, is a safe and effective way to help depression. Acupuncture, herbal formulas, and acupressure have been used in China for over 5000 years. Patient who come to our clinic looking for help with their depression, are typically have already tried anti-depressant prescriptions, with disappointing results. Either the drugs didn’t work, or the side effects were too unpleasant, or they didn’t want to take anti-depression drugs for the rest of their lives. Many patients are happy with the result of acupuncture, which has definitely improved their quality of life. A number of scientific studies, including reports from the World Health Organization, supply a great deal of evidence on how and why acupuncture can help depression; clinical study has shown that patients who received acupuncture treatments experienced significant reduction in depression symptoms. After treatment, more than half no longer met the criteria for clinical depression. Statistically, that makes acupuncture just as effective as antidepressants. Studies also show that acupuncture can change the levels of many neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, that profoundly affect mental states.

Chinese herbal therapy: Our experienced Chinese doctor will give patient a free consultation, to evaluate their health problems from the Chinese medicine point of view. After the diagnosis, our doctor will know about the causes of imbalance in your body, then will decide the best herbal remedy and acupuncture for your depression.
Dietary Therapy: Vitamin C, Folic Acid, Vitamin B-12, and Vitamin B-6 play a very important part in depression. Balance diet, could provide adequate nutrition to nurture our body, maintain our physical and mental health. Certain foods such as daikon radish, sesame seeds and soybeans are highly recommended for depression patients. Other foods such as coffee and alcohol should be avoided.
Chinese medicine works holistically. Our Chinese doctor will always give you a complete evaluation including what kind of deficiency or imbalance you have, which energy pathway is blocked, what foods to eat or avoid, and how these things relate to your mental health. Patients with depression could definitely benefit from this natural and safe method of treatments.