There are many types of depression; among them
are manic (bipolar) depression, major depression, and postpartum
depression. Most types are chronic in nature. Depression affects
all ages and genders (male and female); there is geriatric
(elderly) depression, which must be differentiated from dementia,
and teenage depression and suicide. Here is a good resource
(online) for the symptoms and signs of depression, how practitioners
are treating and how
patients are coping with depression (book). Stress (as
a cause and a result) and anxiety and often associated with
depression. A depression test frequently administered by psychologists
is the Beck Depression Inventory. Here is a less complex test
available online. Another test
("confidential") from the National Mental Health
In clinical setting we frequently see patients who
are taking antidepressants like Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Effexor,
and Wellbutrin. Chinese
herbs like Albizzia may be an alternative
to psychiatric drugs. Traditional
Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a
holistic medicine- it has never separated the mind and body,
and so can comprehensively treat conditions with both physical
and mental symptoms.
Causes of Depression
As with all disease, we need
an accurate diagnosis before we can begin treatment.
Depression has many causes.
Not all of them will be helped by antidepressants.
If your self-esteem is intact, your mood does not vary
during the day, and you are not impaired socially, your depression
may have a physical cause.
Some physical/biomedical causes
of depression are: chronic pain, chronic fatigue, normal grief,
vitamin B12 deficiency anemia, folate deficiency anemia, viral
disease, connective tissue/collagen disorders (arthritis), an
organic brain disorder, drug side-effects, cancer, and endocrine
abnormalities. Chinese Medicine can enhance the health of anyone with
any of these conditions.
Psychiatric Drug Therapy
Controlling depression with
pharmaceuticals usually requires weeks or months of experimentation
with various drugs at different dosages.
During this experimentation, the patient experiences physical
and mental side-effects which can range from the annoying to the
herbal medicine, properly practiced, does not cause side-effects
and so may ultimately be preferable to psychiatric medications.
However, there are many grave
situations where psychiatric pharmaceuticals are essential,
and not taking them can endanger the well-being, or even the life
of the patient. More and more M.D.'s are now working to minimize
the amount of pharmaceuticals taken by each patient, and some
are even working with OMD's to utilize acupuncture and chinese
herbs to slowly take the patient off of drugs and cure the root
Chinese Medicine Diagnoses Depression
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), we always conduct a thorough
evaluation of the patient.
Symptoms and other diagnostic findings are like the pieces
of a puzzle. The
puzzle is a diagnosis that describes a patient's particular imbalances.
Treatment arises naturally from this diagnosis.
In TCM (unlike western biomedicine) there is a treatment
for every diagnosis.
simple way to understand depression is to use TCM's 5-Element
system. The 5 Elements
are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water.
Each element is associated with a particular strength,
weaknesses, color, sound, etc.
Three common 5-Element types in depression are Earth, Water,
get it up"
Problems, Weight Gain, Fatigue, Loose Stool
Morning Diarrhea, Knee and Low Back Problems, Frequent Urination
Problems (red, painful, dry, etc.), Wiry build, Pain in
ribcage area, Headaches on top or sides of head
Frustration, Anger, Short Temper
types "can't keep up."
They often experience digestive deficiency, become tired
and overwhelmed easily, and are prone to worry and weight gain.
They become depressed as a result of deficiency.
Water types have deficiencies in
their 'root' energy. This is most associated with old age, or
extreme chronic illness.
Wood types get depressed because
"they are all bunched up."They are easy to anger.When anger is
focused inward, it turns into depression. They are irritable,
have short tempers, and tend to be skinnier than the Earth type.Wood
types become depressed as a result of stagnation.
Of course, a
TCM diagnosis must be
much more specific than this before treatment can begin.
Then the practitioner moves from diagnosis ("What is the
disease?") to treatment principles ("What strategies should we
use to balance the patient?").
For example, they may want to increase the patient's energy,
move stagnation, and calm the spirit.
Herbs and herb formulas are chosen that fit the patient's
symptoms, diagnosis, and the practitioner's treatment principles.
- Chinese Herbal Prozac Alternative?
Albizzia Julbrissin (mimosa tree bark) is a TCM herb in the
'Nourish the Heart and Calm the Spirit' category. It is
traditionally used to calm the spirit and relieve emotional constraint
when the associated symptoms of bad temper, depression,
insomnia, irritability and poor memory are present. It also
relieves pain and dissipates abscesses and swelling due to trauma
flower of the mimosa tree is also used to relieve constrained
Liver qi, and calm the spirit when the associated symptoms of
insomnia, poor memory, irritability, epigastric pain, and feelings
of pressure in the chest are present.
Research has shown that the flower of the mimosa tree has
a sedative effect.
scientists assert that mimosa tree bark is part of the heavily-guarded
Coca Cola recipe (a concoction that has been making people happy
the meaning of 'Spirit'
In Chinese Medicine, 'spirit' is conscious awareness,
the more emotional and elusive aspect of being.
The body must be in a good state of health, and there must
be sufficient nourishment and balance for the spirit to be at
peace. When improper
diet, extreme emotions, trauma, and external diseases injure the
body, the spirit does not have a comfortable place to rest. To address this problem, we balance the underlying problem,
but in the meantime we also calm the spirit.
Thus, in TCM, we treat the cause of the depression AND
we calm the spirit so that the patient feels happier and more
is safe to say that there are people on anti-depressant medications
that do not need them. More exacting diagnosis by all healthcare practitioners will
lead to more appropriate treatments.
Psychiatric medications often cause unwanted side-effects.
Proper TCM treatment does not cause side-effects.
Because TCM is a holistic medicine
that integrates the body and mind in its diagnostic process and
treatment strategies, it is a viable solution for the treatment
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Depression Naturally with Chinese Medicine
How to Heal Anxiety and... (A Bestseller on Amazon.com!)
Future of Healing: Eastern and Western Medicine in the 21st
Heaven and Earth: Very readable, lots of info on and real-life
examples of the 5 elements aspect of Chinese Medicine.