Depression is fast becoming one of the most difficult to treat yet prevalent medical diagnosis of our time. The symptoms are understood but the biomedical treatment is lacking at best.
Over 45% of Australians will suffer from some form of mental health disorder in their life time with over one million people diagnosed with depression each year*.
There are many different signs and symptoms associated with the diagnosis of depression with biomedicine listing a few of the following:
- Change in personality (less out going, inability to concentrate, withdrawing from family and friends).
- Feelings of constant helplessness, lack of confidence and disappointment.
- Attitude change towards negativity
- Physical changes such as weight loss or gain, insomnia and fatigue.
This list is in no way extensive and realistically has dozens more symptoms.
Depression is still rather poorly understood with many people believing suffers of depression should “get over it”. It is a valid medical diagnosis much like cancer and you would (hopefully) never tell someone to “get over” cancer. It is important to understand where the depressed person is coming from.
There are professional and free services set up to assist anyone who is suffering from depression (such as BeyondBlue). Time may help depending on the circumstances and onset of the depression however it is still advised that you speak to a medical professional or one of these services in order to gain a foothold and move towards better health.
At times the biomedical approach of prescribing SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) can provide relief. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is believed to regulate mood and an SSRI prevents the reuptake of a certain amount keeping more in the brain to regulate mood. A long term management solution may be a better solution though as any drug taken over an extended period of time may have detrimental side effects. Please note if you are on an antidepressant – DO NOT stop taking your medication without seeking professional medical advice.
The mind and body have a linked relationship as noted above by the symptoms of depression having a physical effect. Leaving the disorder without obtaining any assistance will simply cause an escalation in symptoms. There is nothing wrong with feeling depressed, it may be a stage in life or an unresolved trauma so to avoid intervention due to shame is unnecessary.
In Chinese Medicine, the main issue that causes depression is a stagnation of Liver Qi (energy). There are indeed many other underlying patterns however we will only speak about Liver Qi stagnation. Normal Liver Qi moves all throughout the body and when it functions normally, we are symptom free. When it stagnates there can be feelings of bloating, irritability, digestive dysfunction and mood swings amongst others. The energetics of the liver can also create a disharmony with the spleen leading to the symptoms of fatigue and alternating diarrhoea/constipation.
Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine and Chinese Exercise Therapy can all assist in soothing and harmonising the Liver Qi. All three of these medical interventions focus on moving blockages be they internal, energetic or physical with little to no side effect. Keep in mind that the treatment of depression symptoms can only show result if the patient has removed themselves from the cause of the blockage (i.e. abusive relationship) and has the mindset to want to break free. Chinese Medicine requires the expertise of the practitioner with the compliance of the patient for maximum effect.
The legendary comedian Robin Williams stated:
“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy. Because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anybody else to feel like that.”
If you know someone who is going through depression or suspect they are – show empathy and refer them to professional medical health. It would be unnatural to be happy all the time so moments of sadness and depression are not uncommon. Letting the feeling control us permanently is what can cause serious damage.
*Statistics obtained from BeyondBlue.org.au