I’ve treated countless numbers of people with depression and it is never ‘just in your mind’. If anyone says that to you, don’t listen. Depression involves your body, your lifestyle and even your purpose and this is how you treat it. Depression can be a physical response to excessive pressure and stress (doing too many projects at the same time, overthinking and constant decision-making). This creates imbalances that deplete the yin and chi of heart which manifests as depression. In these instances it is a restorative manoeuvre forcing the person to slow down to prevent the body from burning out. Treating this form of depression with medication can lead to a breakdown years later as antidepressants mask symptoms enabling the person to continue the behaviours that deplete yin and chi even further. The lifestyle medicine solution is to nourish yin, build chi, and create balance between work and rest.
Depression can be the result of organ deficiencies caused by a nutrient-deficient diet; a diet with excessive sugar intake; overstimulation from digital devices, or drug and alcohol abuse, all of which hyperstimulate your organs. They then have to work harder and this depletes their resources. This leads to depression. Another trigger I have observed in clients is a lack of purpose or the feeling that life is meaningless. You need a worthwhile goal to get up to every morning, and you need to be pursuing that for your entire life. Your organs are geared up for this. If this is missing, depression can be the outcome.
My own personal battle with suicidal post-drug depression, topped off with the feeling that my life was meaningless, went on for years. The urge to die was so powerful I had to stay away from bridges and tall buildings in case I jumped. I thought it would never change, and it was a life sentence. Chi, Chinese medicine, supplements, nutrients, exercise and pursuing purpose turned everything around for me, and it has worked for countless numbers of my clients. So regardless of the cause, always look to lifestyle as solution.
If it is a burn-out type depression from executive stress and overwork, look at establishing rhythm. Advance then back off. This is essential. If hyper-stimulation is the underlying cause then lots of supplements and Chinese medicinal herbs to repair organ damage are the priority. If you feel purposeless seek out that purpose. We are all here for a reason. I’ve been working with clients on direction and purpose for decades, and everybody has a purpose. If you want more direction on your purpose, this is my area of specialisation, so book in for a holistic lifestyle consultation. For more info on the anti-depression lifestyle, get my book Clock On To Health. For more about treating drug-related depression or in connection with addiction, get my book The Rebels Guide to Recovery.
TCM recognises patterns of symptoms affiliated with particular organs, and that these patterns can be reversed though treatment and lifestyle. The patterns associated with this symptom are:
In Chinese medicine the causes of depression can be mental, physiological, spiritual and environmental. Mental health factors contributing to depression are affiliated with the heart (as the heart houses the mind). Emotional problems; sadness and anxiety, negativity, lack of joy, social isolation (loneliness) and chronic illness (with sweating and tiredness symptoms) wear out the heart energies and lead to depression.
Kidney provides the fire for all physiological processes and jing. This is the fire of life, if this is dampened you sit and don’t care. If your organs have no power it leads to depression. Your stomach is involved. As the stomach is like a chi conductor, regulating the chi flow between the upper and lower organs, the stomach’s inability to descend will disrupt the harmony between heart and kidney and cause depression, especially manic depression. Stomach energy needs to be in balance for heart energy to be balanced. This is via the ‘mother son’ relationship. The stomach is the son of the heart, and if the son is happy the mother is also happy.
Depression can have many causes. It can be something as simple as neglecting your stomach. Regularly skipping or rushing your breakfast, for example. Also strong emotions, excessive consumption of hot food (this refers to an energetic quality not temperature), smoking, overwork, juggling too many projects at the same time, sleep deprivation, lack of rest, anger, frustration, jealousy and worry all generate heat in the stomach which burns vital fluids causing yin and chi deficiencies. Furthermore, the heat rises and prevents stomach chi from descending.
Treatment for depression includes acupuncture (this can have an instant effect) and herbal formulas (usually impact within 3 days). Dietary changes and rest are always prescribed.
In Western Medicine depression is a chronic condition that affects both mental and physical health. It is associated with anxiety and panic attacks, and also with drug and alcohol addictions, the latter thought to be both the consequence and the cause of depression. Medical research examines the links between the low production of serotonin, a ‘wellbeing’ hormone, and depression, and also genetic predisposition.
In Western medicine depression does not have a known single cause, and there is no straightforward wisdom on how the brain regulates moods. There is general agreement that depression can be caused by long term personal and environmental factors such as prolonged stress, poor nutrition, abuse and neglect (often the result of a parent’s mental health) and social isolation. There is also thought to be personality ‘types’ that are more vulnerable to depression: perfectionists; those with a ‘sensitive’ disposition; people who are more likely to take criticism personally and also to be self-critical.
The most common treatments for depression in Western medicine are antidepressants. There are several types of antidepressant, and each have a different effect on the brain’s chemistry. The most common group of antidepressants are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) which increase the serotonin uptake in the relevant parts of the brain. Antidepressants have side-effects that vary from interfering with sleep to affecting sexual drive, and different people experience different results; there is no universal dosage or medication that works for everyone. Other mainstream treatments for depression are psychological and psychiatric, involving analysis and ‘talking therapies’ which also have mixed results.