Treating Depression with Chinese Medicine

Depression is a common mood disorder in the developed countries of the world. The Fall season is an especially prevalent time for mood disorders. The season changes bringing less sunlight and colder, shorter days. The energy in nature begins to recede back into the earth. The leaves change color and fall. People are spending less time socializing outside in nature.

Photo by Annie Nyle on Unsplash

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, fall is the time of the metal element. The energy pathways most active are the lung and large intestine. The emotion associated with the lung meridian is sadness and grief.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling listless, sad or down every day
  • Having low energy
  • Sleeping too much
  • No interest in activities you usually enjoy.
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless, or guilty
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Having thoughts of not wanting to live.
  • Trouble sleeping

Tips to manage depression

  • Depression can improve with regular exercise. Spend time outdoors each day especially in the early morning.
  • Get adequate rest, 7- 8 hours a night if possible. Going to bed at the same time each night helps the body clock to stabilize itself.
  • Set a routine for each day, exercise, read, cook, call a friend.
  • Eat meals at the same time each day.
  • Connect with family and friends.
  • Avoid taking naps. It will be difficult to sleep at night.
  • Avoid bright lights and blue light in the evening

In Traditional Chinese Medicine depression is treated with dietary changes, herbs, acupressure or acupuncture, and exercise, usually Qi Gong or Tai Chi. Since the energy pathways have an emotional association, it is important to keep the energy (chi) flowing. When our energy is stuck, we experience symptoms of dis-ease and depression. When the energy is flowing freely, we have a sense of ease and wellbeing.

There is no cookie cutter approach to depression in Chinese Medicine. Each person is unique and may have different treatments for depression and anxiety based on their constitution and health issues. There are many degrees of depression. People with more severe symptoms should also seek medical professional help.