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What would an acupuncturist tell me about how to deal with depression?

Asked 8 years ago
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Answered 8 years ago

It would depend a little on his or her theoretical background. There are at least three distinct types of acupuncture practiced in the US. But all traditions agree on certain points. For instance, Chinese medicine does not view the body as separate from the mind. There is only one bodymind system, and depression would be seen as merely one symptom in a larger complex of dysfunction. How that 'depression' would be treated would depend on the patient's other symptoms as well as his or her character type. A common depression syndrome is associated with liver Qi stagnation, and presents with underlying chronic irritability or periodic rage. In this case, treatment would be directed at the liver and its associated meridian. Other examples include depression with a worried or obsessional flavor (due to spleen dysfunction) or exhibiting a fearful, paranoid aspect (relating to kidney weakness). Each of these would be likely to associate with specific bodily symptoms (e.g., muscle tension in liver stagnation, stomach issues in spleen dysfunction, fatigue in kidney weakness). Each would therefore require different treatment. The therapy would always be directed at the 'whole person' and never just at the isolated symptom of depression. Along with acupuncture, some acupuncturists might prescribe herbal remedies. Qi gong exercises can also be very helpful. Dietary recommendations are sometimes included. Unlike standard psychiatry, which barely looks beyond the patient's thoughts and moods, at its best Chinese medicine keeps a broad perspective both in evaluation and treatment.

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