Depression is a common mood disorder characterized by both physical and psychological symptoms that affects people of all genders, ages, and backgrounds, with as many as two thirds of adult population experiencing depression severe enough to interfere with their normal activities at some point of their life. Depression is likely a result of a combination of genetic, biochemical, environmental, and psychological factors, and may be triggered by stressful events such as bereavement, illness, relationship problems or financial difficulties. Women are twice as likely as men to become depressed, partly due to hormone changes occurring premenstrually, at menopause, during pregnancy, or after childbirth.
Although everyone occasionally experiences low mood, these feelings usually pass after a couple of days, but for a person with clinical depression, these problems can become chronic or recurrent, interfering with daily life, and manifesting with a gamut of symptoms from low mood, lack of motivation, loss of interest in enjoyable activities, crying spells, anxiety, worry, fatigue, physical pain, digestive upset, decreased libido, anxiety, irritability, low self-esteem, disturbed sleep or appetite, weight change, reduced concentration, poor memory, to suicidal thoughts.
Modern medicine typically treats depression with a form of psychotherapy and/or antidepressants regardless of the specific symptoms presented by the depressed patient. In contrast, Traditional Chinese Medicine does not recognize depression as a particular illness per se, but rather aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to the individual using a variety of techniques such as acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and bodywork to restore imbalances at the root of the condition.
When addressing a long-standing condition such as depression, the first visits are aimed at understanding your particular pattern of depression and decreasing any acute symptoms. The duration of treatment as well as the prognosis depends on how long you’ve been experiencing depression and its severity, but typically, after one or two months of weekly visits you can expect some positive shifts in terms of depression and its accompanying symptoms.
From the Western medical perspective, acupuncture promotes endorphin release, stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, and addresses neurotransmitter deficiencies. However, the effects of acupuncture go beyond merely working on the nervous system. The physical body, the emotions, and the spirit are all inextricably linked, and acupuncture has long been recognized an effective method of treating these three levels of the human being. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy work holistically to address not only the mental and emotional aspects of depression, but also its physical manifestations, making it an extremely effective, natural, and side-effect free therapeutic alternative.
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