Acupuncture for Depression
In traditional Chinese medicine, treatment for ‘depression’ is a short-hand for a wide range of syndromes. Syndromes are descriptions of conditions in Chinese medicine.
Before starting treatment for depression, the acupuncturist would carefully take your case. What that means is you tell him your problems.
Then he would:
- take your pulses
- look at your tongue
- examine painful areas
- palpate your abdomen and
- consider the results of previous treatments on the flow of Qi along your acupuncture channels.
(There’s more about this further down the page.)
Diagnosis via ‘Syndromes’
To help him plan your treatment he would then diagnose your condition in terms of syndromes. You could easily have more than one syndrome.
The following are only examples of what might be diagnosed. There are many possibilities and it’s not a complete list.
By the way, if you’re unfamiliar with Chinese medicine, the list won’t mean much, but still, here it is. In most cases by clicking on the syndrome you get to another page which explains it:
In addition, if you were in China you might need ‘re-education’. In the West we might call this counselling, but in the past some might have described it more like brain-washing. To be fair, however, the aim was to make society work better, and only secondarily, perhaps, to control dissent.
As you can see from the above list, there are many possibilities. Each requires a different acupuncture strategy, with different points.
Of course, the personalities of the patient and acupuncturist matter, but probably more in the West than the East, where the authority and skills of the acupuncturist matter more.
Still, if the diagnosis is correct and the acupuncture treatment for depression is performed properly, the syndromes in question should be put right, together with the ‘depression’.
For more on this click on acupuncture for depression points.
Qi stagnation is very common in depression. You can read my book about it below.
How Fast will Acupuncture Work?
If your condition is recent, mild, and easy to diagnose in Chinese Medicine, then the correct ‘acupuncture for depression’ treatment works fast: possibly very fast – in minutes perhaps.
What if you’ve had depression for years, been on many drugs, seen many specialists, and you feel suicidal? Here acupuncture for depression like yours will probably work only slowly. That’s not to say it won’t work, but it may take at least a year to see lasting progress.
But let’s not get gloomy.
The problem is this. There isn’t a specific acupuncture for depression treatment that would apply to everyone with depression. Even Western medicine chooses the medication according to the diagnosis, so nothing new there.
The difference is that in reaching the diagnosis in Chinese medicine, virtually every known symptom and factor about the patient might be needed to reach a diagnosis: probably far more than in Western Medicine. Also, you can only understood one symptom in relation to other symptoms: they aren’t separate – they work all together making the patient unique.
Been depressed? Not fun, is it? Admittedly few of us die from depression, at least compared to heart, circulatory and respiratory diseases. Still, depression and anxiety-like disorders affect 1 in 6 of us every year. That could be every sixth person in the street!
At least 2 out of every 100 people you know probably suffer from depression, and if anxiety is included, it’s up to 1 in 10 for men, and over a lifetime, it’s one in five for women. That’s a lot of misery.
And it’s costly too. The cost of depression to the economy exceeds that of high blood pressure and diabetes put together, and it affects relationships, work, and personal self-worth.
Acupuncture for depression, when used appropriately, could re-energize so many lives.
Western medicine diagnoses major depression when at least five out of nine possible symptoms occur daily during a given two-week period and are different from previous behaviour and functioning.
There has to be, in addition to five or more of the conditions listed below, a state of depressed mood every day, with loss of pleasure in almost all or all activities.
- Insomnia (sleeplessness) or hypersomnia (can’t stop sleeping)
- Fatigue, or feeling of worthlessness: loss of energy
- Either weight loss (not due to dieting) or significant weight gain (over 5% of body weight in a month), with either a decreased or increased appetite every day
- Recurring thoughts of dying or death or suicide
- Reduced ability to think or concentrate, and indecisiveness
- A sense of excessive guilt, or inappropriate guilt
- Psycho-motor agitation or retardation nearly every day
Obviously, these symptoms should not arise from taking drugs or from a medical condition. Also, the symptoms must interfere or cause distress in terms of work or friendships (for example).
Co-morbidity of depression with other mental disorders
Like buses, problems don’t usually come alone. They come hand-in-hand with other problems, or one after the other. (In fact, in the USA, they did a National Co-morbidity Survey which concluded that having just one mental disorder was less common than having at least two together.) If depression comes with other problems, it may be harder to treat, whatever therapy is used.
For example, depression often accompanies dependence on alcohol, or panic disorders, or anxiety disorders, or what is called ‘borderline personality’ disorder.
Also, if you have a serious or chronic medical condition like cancer or stroke, diabetes or prolonged pain, you are more likely to suffer from depression.
When there is this co-morbidity, it could be because:
- You have a long history of depression, or the depression arises from something other than the medical condition
- You get depression as a reaction to the medical condition and the problems it gives you
- The medical condition has a physiological effect on you causing depression.