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Can Chinese Medicine Help with Depression?



As mental health issues have come to the forefront in recent years, many have sought more natural treatment options that don’t involve pharmaceuticals and their potentially harmful effects. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has become a popular option for treating mental health issues, including depression. But does it work? Let’s explore….

Chinese Medicine Defined 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (also known as TCM) is a system that teaches the body has a flow of energy aka qi that regulates a person’s health. If this flow of energy is disrupted, illness can occur. There are many modalities that you will find under the umbrella of TCM, but the most well known are probably Chinese Herbs, Acupuncture and Acupressure. Not all providers practice all parts of the medicine (including my office that is 100% needle free)  however all providers agree with the TCM theory that teaches us that stimulating specific points on the body can help put the body back in balance and get the energy flowing as it should.

Depression Defined

WebMD defines depression as “an illness that involves constant feelings of sadness and a loss of interest or pleasure.” They also define additional symptoms as difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much, lack of energy, suicidal thoughts, drastic changes to weight and appetite, irritability, difficulty concentrating, remembering things or even making decisions, and feelings of guilt or worthlessness. Depression is most often treated with medication or therapy or a combination of both. The disheartening thing is that, according to WebMD, “between 19 and 34% of people with depression don’t improve with these more traditional treatments. This has led to more people looking for alternative treatments including TCM.

What the Research Says

A recent 2016 study found that their participants that received auricular (ear) acupressure had significantly lower mean cortisol (stress hormone) levels, anxiety symptoms and fatigue symptoms than those in the control group. They also reported feeling far more relaxed and able to manage their feelings of stress anxiety and depression better.

If you suffer from feelings of anxiety and depression, talk to your TCM provider to develop the appropriate treatment plan. Your provider will take a detailed health history and examination to help you determine the best course of action. 

Studies have shown that the right “dose” of treatment was the key in helping patients see results and a reduction of the symptoms of stress and depression. A “dose” is defined as both the number of treatment sessions overall, as well as the number of acupoints addressed in each session. Studies have also shown that TCM can help to get heart rate variability back to an optimal range which can help improve issues with heart disease, hypertension, anxiety and depression, insomnia, migraines, and muscle pain. 

While the number of studies is still few, there are many encouraging studies demonstrating great results for those suffering from feelings of anxiety and depression. In addition to regular in office treatments, your practitioner can also recommend herbal supplements and nutritional and dietary changes that can also get your energy back in balance. And once you find your energy back in balance, there is a cascade of health benefits that can come from regular TCM treatments. Do not suffer another day. Call today and schedule your appointment so you can get a treatment plan in place and get back into balance. 

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