Have Depression?

By Li Hua, L. Ac. TCMD.

   As winter leaves, the spring is coming. But depression, which commonly happens in the winter, still bothers many people now. Depression, in the medical dictionary, means a temporary mental state or chronic mental disorder. Depression is not a new health problem. Since people live longer, or stress is increasing in this modern time, there are more and more people experiencing and suffering from it. Sometimes, it only lasts days. Seriously, it may last months or years. Every year, there are about 20 million people in the US suffering from depression. Most illness people experience may combine with light depression. And it is twice as common in women as in men.

The symptoms of depression include chronic fatigue, low sex drive, sleep disturbances (insomnia, excessive sleep, or waking up a lot at night), changes in appetite (poor appetite may result as loss of weight, and excessive appetite may lead to overweight), headaches, backaches, stomachache, indigestion, irritable bowel movement, restlessness, irritability, losing temper easily, crying a lot without reasons, loss of pleasure in hobbies, excessive worry, poor concentration, withdrawing from society, loss of interest in things around them and becoming slow in reacting and moving, and feelings of worthlessness (may develop into suicide).

Depression involves the whole body. It affects the way they feel about themselves and other people, and the way they react to and think about the people and things around them. It influences themselves, other people, families, and societies. There are many and varied reasons to cause depression. But it has not been fully understood yet. Western medicine believes that depression may be related to tension, stress, side effects of taking drugs, genetic genes, a traumatic life event, chemical imbalances in the brain, thyroid disorders, hormone imbalance, upset stomach, headache, nutritional deficiencies, poor diet, the consumption of sugar, mononucleosis, lack of exercise, endometriosis, any serious physical disorder, or allergies.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is holistic and alternative medicine and looks at depression from a different angle. Except for the external and genetic reasons, TCM thinks that foods take a very important role, because foods greatly influence the brain’s behavior. The brain controls people’s reaction, such as, attitude and movement. And the chemicals in the brain are supplied by foods. TCM believes people get energy and nutrition from foods. Foods have to rely on the organs, which can change the foods into the nutrition and chemicals the body needs. The organs’ Chi (vital energy) is as important as the quality of foods. Lot of people knows the proper diet. But some people ignore their organs’ Chi, so they get depression even if they eat correct foods.

Additionally, acupuncture is natural Chinese psychiatry healing art with thousands years of history. Acupuncture is one of best solutions for depression. Because acupuncture can affect the nerve system, regulate digestive and endocrine systems, balance body, mind and spirit. It also works very well with western medicine together to achieve better healing result. Besides acupuncture, I also suggest to do Yin and Yang exercises at least one hour per day, such as, Tai Chi Qi Gong, walking or slow running, which is good for depression healing or preventing. Singing is good exercise for healing as well as preventing depression. Reading humor books is very helpful, too. Warm bright colors are highly recommended to use at home or in the office. It is necessary to get enough sunshine, too. Of course, for different people, the body condition is different, although all are diagnosed as depression; TCM may treat each person with individual method. If one of the symptoms is felt, it is good to get rest, acupuncture, or consult with a TCM doctor. Otherwise, the depression will become more serious and will take longer a time to recover. Summer and autumn also are good seasons to get acupuncture on schedule to avoid depression in winter.