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Anxiety and depression are categorized as spirit-mind imbalance according to the TCM.
In any given year, about seven percent will experience a depressive disorder, in Canada. Of those who develop depression/anxiety, only about 20 percent will receive adequate treatment.
About 16 percent of adults will experience depression/anxiety at some point in their life. About 97 percent of those reporting depression/anxiety also reported that their work, home life and relationships suffered as a result.
According to Health Canada and Statistics Canada, approximately 8% of adult Canadians will experience a major depression/anxiety at some point in their lives, and around 5% will in a given year.
Depression/anxiety continues to be Canada's fastest-rising diagnosis. From 1994 to 2004, visits for depression/anxiety made to office-based doctors almost doubled. In 2003, that meant 11.6 million visits to doctors across Canada about depression/anxiety.
Anxiety: is a feeling of apprehension and fear, characterized by physical symptoms such as palpitations, sweating, and feelings of stress.
Depression: is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person's thoughts, behavior, feelings and physical well-being. Depressed people may feel sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty, irritable, or restless. They may lose interest in activities that once were pleasurable; experience loss of appetite or overeating, have problems concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions; and may contemplate or attempt suicide. Insomnia, excessive sleeping, fatigue, loss of energy, or aches, pains or digestive problems that are resistant to treatment may be present. Depressed mood is not necessarily a psychiatric disorder.
It is a normal reaction to certain life events, a symptom of some medical conditions, and a side effect of some medical treatments. Depressed mood is also a primary or associated feature of certain psychiatric syndromes such as clinical depression.
Anxiety patterns according to TCM:
1- Heat entering QI level, can cause more restlessness than agitation with heat signs, thirst, and desire for cold fluids.
2- Heat entering Blood level, can cause severe restlessness and even mania, with heat signs, macules or papules, and even bleeding.
3- Heart fire harassing mind, can cause restlessness and agitation, with insomnia, dreaming, sadness, heat signs, and severe thirst.
4- Liver fire flaring upward, can cause the person to restless, easily angered with rashes.
5- Blood deficiency, can cause both restlessness and agitation, with paleness, lassitude and dryness signs.
6- Yin deficiency, can cause restlessness with heat signs especially at night with night sweats, impatience, and rashes.
7- Yang deficiency, can cause cold signs, cold extremities, vomiting and diarrhea.
Depression patterns according to TCM:
1- Liver QI stagnation transforming to fire, can cause the person to become very emotional, easily angered often stressed, unstable, very sad, belching, chest constriction, poor or excess appetite, diarrhea, irregular menses, hypochondriac pain, burning sensation, migraines, easily angered, dry mouth, bitter mouth, constipation, nausea, and acid regurgitation.
2- Phlegm obstruction, can cause discomfort in throat as if obstructed by plum pit, relief brought neither by coughing nor swallowing, sensation of congestion and blockage in the chest, and costal pain.
3- Internal organs dryness, can cause mental imbalance, absent mindedness, restlessness, worry, crying, irritability, fatigue, and even yawning.
4- Heart and Gallbladder deficiency, can cause emotional depression with suspicion and worry, heart palpitations, lack of courage and a tendency to be easily frightened, frequent dreaming and easily waking up, little though to food and drink, this pattern is commonly seen in women and children.
Acupuncture and herbs for anxiety and depression:
One of the major reasons for anxiety and depression is stagnation of Liver QI (vital life force). Liver QI easily gets stagnated due to stress, negative environmental emotional impacts and so forth. This in turn can cause digestive issues in the long term from constipation to diarrhea, poor or excess appetite, thirst, or dryness, distention in the hypochondriac region, and phlegm obstruction.
Anxiety and depression treatment plan:
Once a differentiation is established, which is usually a combination of more than one pattern, acupuncture and herbs can be used to tackle the issue. Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine are really effective in facilitating the movement of the QI and relieving these signs and symptoms.
Herbal treatment is mostly based on the traditional formulas depending on the differentiation, of course these formulas should be modified because of the complications specific to the individual.
Once or twice a week treatments with acupuncture are recommended to relieve the anxiety and depression symptoms. Once the symptoms are under control the frequency can be reduced which usually happens after 12 treatments in a row based on once a week. Herbal medicine is added to the plan from the second session when the diagnosis is completed. A comprehensive plan is consisted of 2-3 months treatment and once the symptoms are reduced and the patient can function more normally the frequency can be reduced.
TCM research for anxiety and depression:
Acupuncture & Depression
All subjects receiving acupuncture for major depression significantly improved to a greater extent than those not receiving treatment. Another study suggests that electro-acupuncture can produce the same therapeutic results as tetracyclic drugs, but with less side effects and better symptomatic improvement.
[Acupuncture treatment for major depression, the 10th annual symposium of the Soc. For acupuncture research, 2003. J. TCM,2004 Sep.;24(3):172-6]
Acupuncture & Insomnia
In the treatment of insomnia, acupuncture yields significant results with a total effective rate of 90.44%, improve the quality of sleep and overcomes complications induced by sleep medication.
[Sok, SR, et. Al., The effects of acupuncture therapy on insomnia. J Adv Nurs., 2003 No;44(4):375-84]
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can happen to individuals who have a normal mental health condition most of the year but in certain seasons, mostly winter they feel depressed or emotionally down.
This can be treated using acupuncture or TCM based on differentiations for Anxiety or Depression.