Anxiety and Depression are both very common conditions we see in our clinic. A national survey in the UK revealed that anxiety, depression and stress were among the most common reasons to seek acupuncture treatments with similar findings in USA (2). The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that depression will be the second leading contributor to the global burden of disease by 2020 (2). In Chinese Medicine there are at least 10 different patterns of disharmony specifically relating to depression alone (1). Our practitioners inspect your tongue and pulse to help make a clear diagnosis of a specific Chinese Medicine pattern of disharmony.
Typical symptoms of depression can include (1):
Our practitioners understand the importance of the common two categories of depression or anxiety:
Understanding these two distinctive categories and other health findings helps guide our treatments to reach a satisfactory and individualised Chinese Medicine diagnosis.
Depression is classified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) as mild, moderate or severe based on the number of presenting symptoms and are considered either a single episode or major depressive disorder (2). The later being defined by a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities for at least 2 weeks.
Anxiety can be classified as a constant feeling of dread, apprehension, disaster, tension or uneasiness. Anxiety disorders can be an “umbrella term” for a variety of conditions such as: phobias, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), traumatic stress disorder or generalised anxiety disorder due to a medical condition (2).
Depression and Anxiety from a Chinese Medicine Perspective
Mental and physical health depends on the quality, volume and uninhibited movement of qi (energy) and blood. Generally all mental disorders are due to a disruption of one or more of the internal organ systems and their mental components by insufficient or stagnate qi or blood.
A lowering of vitality or functional activity describes Chinese Medicines root understanding of depression: that emotional and behavioural symptoms are manifestations of an underlying constraint, collapse or dissolution of qi that weakens and destabilizes the core identity of the self (3).
Acupuncture can offer substantial assistance in the treatment of depression. As with many other conditions further research is required to examine the conditions for which acupuncture may be most effective. Acupuncture can provide another choice of treatment for those suffering from anxiety or depression and an additional opportunity for those who have failed to respond adequately to other treatments, or are in circumstances where medication is contraindicated. Acupuncture may enhance the effects of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy, while minimizing the unwanted side effects of medications. A study conducted on 755 patients showed that both acupuncture and counselling significantly reduced the severity of depression (4).
Acupuncture in combination with other methods such as cognitive behavioural therapy, lifestyle or dietary modifications and other interventions may significantly enhance positive outcomes. If you would like to know if acupuncture can help you or work in conjunction with your current health care plan, contact our team on (07) 5515 0409 so we can help answer any questions that you may have regarding acupuncture as a method to assist your current wellbeing.