Depression is complex and can be different for everyone. Whether chemical, conditional or a combination of factors, traditional Chinese medicine has it’s own holistic protocol for decoding the imbalances and alleviating the symptoms of depression.
Here’s herbalist and acupuncturist, Mona Dan of Vie Healing, on understanding depression from a traditional Chinese medicine perspective…
In the view of Chinese medicine, understanding depression and working to treat it has a very unique and individual approach. Understanding that each individual is unique and so is their experience of depression, we find the pattern that shows up and speaks loudest. Symptoms act as the guides to understand what’s going on internally. Within the scope of Chinese medicine, we understand that organs have characteristics they express and seeing which symptoms speak loudest shows us which organs are crying out for help, creating imbalance and ruckus within.
Two Types of Depression: Deficient + Excessive
You can be depleted and down or restless and mind-racing with depression. Within those very simple examples, there can be loads of questions asked by practitioners that can lead us to a more specific diagnosis about what is really going on internally, causing mayhem. What are the symptoms of your depression, where do you feel it, when do you feel it? These are just a few very important questions that help us zero in on the main organ involved in creating your depression.
Other symptoms people won’t necessarily even relate to depression may be causing huge stressors to the body, enhancing the sensations and feelings. Lack of proper blood flow and blood deficiency can affect proper nutrient supply and the proper waste removal from brain tissues.
‘Deficient’ type symptoms include… pale tongue, pale pinkish color in eyelids…etc.Treatment can include acupuncture and diet changes, including bone broth, warming foods and adaptogen herbs. With a deficient depression, sadness is usually involved.
‘Excessive’ type depression symptoms include… chest distention, flank pain, excessive sighing, nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, diarrhea, moodiness and a feeling of something caught in the throat. Also, anger is the most prevalent emotion with the excessive type of depression.
This type is usually caused by overwork, causing adrenaline rush. The response of the nervous system and endocrine system puts excessive pressure on the liver creating a tense environment within the body.
The emotions related to organs are important to hear about as well.
The liver is associated with creativity, artistic endeavor, intuition, the unconscious, the making of plans and the courage to follow them through. A healthy, well-grounded liver enables forward planning with creativity, vision and insight. The liver is active in dreams and is the creative impulse drawn upon when a problem is solved after ‘sleeping on it’.
A stressed liver leads to depression with a lack of inspiration and direction, diminished creativity and loss of insight. Patients feel trapped by insurmountable barriers. A liver in excess results in irrational behavior, while a deficient liver, leads to lack of courage, indecisiveness and even sleep walking.
The lungs react and respond through the skin and perception through the five senses. It is the point of contact between the body and the environment and helps create a sense of self. Healthy lung energy has strong contact and engagement with the world, and establishes clear boundaries between self and others.
Weak lungs tend to retreat to withdrawal, to a sense of raw exposure and vulnerability, extreme sensitivity to the emotions, thoughts and presence of others, and a sense of disconnection, isolation and separation from the world and society. Common systems of this type of of depression shows itself as constant sadness and crying.
The spleen is responsible for mental activity to properly think through a problem. The excessive spleen leads to excessive worry, obsessive thinking and an inability to concentrate constructively. When the spleen is deficient, difficulty concentrating is a major symptom, quickly losing interest and not staying focused on the simplest of tasks. Also, there is a tendency to overeat or comfort eat, and obsess over food.
The kidneys are associated with memory, motivation, ambition and willpower. This is probably the most common of the organ emotions and it’s because of the relationship the kidneys have with genetics and family history. This organ and emotional relationship effects feeling stable in the face of adversity.
With the kidneys, there isn’t an excessive issue but there is a hot/cold issue. If the body is running hot, then there’s a lack of grounding; if it’s cold, this causes the type of depression dealing with more despair and fear, with loss of libido.
There are deeper layers to understanding depression and the proper diagnosis and treatment. Peeling the layers back and incorporating changes in diet, sleep schedules and lifestyle help — with the proper herbs or medications.
The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health related program.