1 in 4 Britons suffer from depression within a given year, at least 20 percent of them experience a clinical depressive syndrome where low mood is accompanied by insomnia, change in appetite, pessimism and suicidal thoughts. Depression can affect people of every age, background and ethnicity. According to the World Health Organisation, 850 000 lives are lost to suicide caused by depression every year.
Depression is a common mental disorder that presents with depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration. These problems can become chronic or recurrent and lead to substantial impairments in an individual's ability to take care of his or her everyday responsibilities.
Depression is affecting about 121 million people worldwide and is among the leading causes of disability worldwide.
Depression is the leading cause of disability as measured by YLDs (Years Lived with Disability) and the 4th leading contributor to the global burden of disease (DALYs - the sum of years of potential life lost due to premature mortality and the years of productive life lost due to disability calculated for all ages, both sexes) in 2000.
By the year 2020, depression is projected to reach 2nd place in the ranking of DALYs. Today, depression is already the 2nd cause of DALYs in the age category 15-44 years for both sexes combined.
Western medicine attributes depression to a variety of factors, e.g. genetics, biochemistry, biography and ill health. Treatment involves anti-depressant drugs and psychological treatment. Depression can be reliably diagnosed and treated in primary care.
Acupuncture has been proved to be an effective treatment for depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke), through clinical trials*.
In Chinese Medicine theory, human emotions are closely related to the organs. The organ predominantly associated with depression is the Liver whose main function is to store blood and maintain a good flow of Qi (the body's essential energy) throughout the body. Unrestricted anger, seen often in a short tempered person, can directly affect the Liver, causing a stagnation of Liver's own energy (the Liver Qi) - which is often the underlying problem in depression as well as in stress and anxiety.
As Liver Qi stagnation is the most common cause, herbs known to move the Qi and balance Liver are often used - such as Chinese angelica root, white peony root and liquorice. Treatment usually also involves acupuncture, and advice on diet and lifestyle is on offer since a change in these two aspects might be vital to a successful outcome. It is important to stress that treatment will be tailored to your individual symptoms and requirements.
A US study has shown that acupuncture achieves comparable results to current Western biomedicine in the treatment of depression. The research, funded by the US Office of Alternative Health, focused on the treatment of 33 seriously depressed women. Results showed that of those treated with acupuncture, over half experienced complete remission.
For personalised advice on diet and lifestyle, please ask the doctor during your consultation.
Please be reminded that we offer free online health advice.
Hou DF et al. [Clinical observation of therapeutic effect of baihui (GV20)-yintang (EX-HN3) electro-acupuncture in 30 cases of post-apoplectic depression.] Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion, 1996, 16(8):432-433 [in Chinese].
Li CD et al. Treating post-stroke depression with “antidepressive” acupuncture therapy: A clinical study of 21 cases. International Journal of Clinical Acupuncture, 1994, 5(4):389-393.
Luo HC et al. Electro-acupuncture vs amitriptyline in the treatment of depressive states. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 1985, 5(1):3-8.
Luo HC et al. [Clinical observation of electro-acupuncture on 133 patients with depression in comparison with tricyclic amytriptyline.] Chinese Journal of Integrated Traditional and Western Medicine, 1988, 8(2):77-80 [in Chinese].
Yang X. Clinical observation of needling extrameridian points in treating mental depression. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 1994, 14:14-18.
Zhang B et al. A control study of clinical therapeutic effects of laser-acupuncture on depressive neurosis. World Journal of Acupuncture-Moxibustion, 1996, 6(2):12-17.
"I've had two serious bouts of depression in my life, both of them came close to killing me. That's not an exaggeration, it might sound melodramatic but it's true. I spent fifteen months where I did not sleep more than three hours a night. I was a walking zombie. I wasn't functioning. Treatment here has turned my life around, it has been great. I normally have a fear of needles, I am almost phobic about them. The truth is they don't hurt. Over time as I have had the treatment, things have been opened up for me, it is a remarkable experience. I feel like I have more energy than I have had for years, I feel so much better, I can think straighter and can concentrate. I have got more benefit here than I ever received from Western medicine. Western medicine could not even diagnose what was wrong with me and the doctors here just said yes we can treat that, and they were right."
"When I first came to acumedic I was suffering from major depression. After six weeks of herbs and two courses of tablets and acupuncture, I can honestly say the improvement has been quite unbelievable. I have been hugely impressed and would have no hestation in recommending these combined treatments."
"I have had a number of symptoms for 3 years including sleplessness, depression, over-emotionalness, low self-worth."
"I have tried a number of traditional solutions including counselling, sleeping pills (but did not take antidepressants because of side-effects)."
"After 3 years I decided to try Chinese Medicine. Within 10 weeks I noticed that all of the symptoms noted above have very significantly reduced. I am emotionally balanced, I have almost perfect sleep and do not feel depressed. I feel very good about myself and it is a very great relief."
"I am a 38 year-old woman. I have been using Chinese medicine for more than 5 years. After years of depression (27 year-old and 30 year-old) and the involvement of the in heritage events which turned out to be dramatically negative, at 32 years I moved to London. I had to find a job and later on I had to buy a flat. When I first entered AcuMedic, I was lacking in energy and interest. The coating on my tongue was always white. I was suffering from tiredness, stress, fear, and paranoia. I also was extremely emotional. I always auffered from PMS (lack of energy before and while I had my period). Over the weekend I was always very tired and sometimes 'depressed'."
"At the beginning I was using Chinese medicine on and off, but have been using it every day for more than 3 years now and lately alternate the tea with the capsules (2 days tea and 2 day capsules). I prefer the tea as it gives me loads of ebnergy and I sleep really well. However the capsules are quite convenient on holiday for example and has helped me a lot in the first years of my treatment."
"Today, I still use the tea and capsules but the white coating on my tongue is significantly reduced. I sleep well almost every night and I can concentrate much more at work. Not too long ago I discovered that I'm pretty much in control of all my emotions. I'm not emotional any more. For the last year and a half I practice yoga, do meditation and some chanting."
In recent years, the 48 year-old female patient had a continuous headache. When it became severe, it would cause nausea, irritability, make her suspicious of her surroundings, and also cause her mental confusion as if she could hear talking, after hearing which she would become more irritable. Sometimes, she felt so upset that she wanted to cry. She slept badly and was frightened by nightmares. She also had tinnitus, dizziness, soreness of the waist, excessive leukorrhea, lassitude and lustreless complexion. Although she had taken sedatives for a long time, there was no improvement. Her tongue was pale with thin and greasy coating. Her pulse was thready and rapid. She was diagnosed as having a deficiency of the heart Qi and blood due to hyperactive liver Qi. Treatment focused on nourishing the heart to calm the mind and subduing hyperactivity of the liver. After taking a series of herbal and acupuncture treatment, the patient felt much better.