Health Rejuvenation – Anxiety/Depression

What is depression?

Depression is much more than simple unhappiness. Clinical depression, sometimes called major depression, is a complex mood disorder caused by various factors, including genetic predisposition, personality, stress and brain chemistry. While it can suddenly go into remission, depression is not something that people can “get over” by their own effort.

 

Type of depression:

Seasonal affective disorder: This type of depression is usually affected by the weather and time of the year.

Postpartum depression: This occurs in women, following the birth of a child. About 13 per cent of women will experience this type of depression.

Depression with psychosis: In some cases, depression may become so severe that a person loses touch with reality and experiences hallucinations (hearing voices or seeing people or objects that are not really there) or delusions (beliefs that have no basis in reality).

Dysthymia: This is a chronically low mood with moderate symptoms of depression.

​​​Signs & symptoms of depression:

The main symptom of depression is a sad, despairing mood that: is present most days and lasts most of the day, lasts for more than two weeks; impairs the person’s performance at work, at school or in social relationships.

Other symptoms of depression include: changes in appetite and weight; sleep problems; loss of interest in work, hobbies, people or sex; withdrawal from family members and friends; feeling useless, hopeless, excessively guilty, pessimistic or having low self-esteem; agitation or feeling slowed down; irritability; fatigue; trouble concentrating, remembering and making decision; crying easily, or feeling like crying but being not able to; thoughts of suicide (which should always be taken seriously); a loss of touch with reality, hearing voices (hallucinations) or having strange ideas (delusions).

How does depression affect different populations?

Women: Major depression can occur in 10 to 25 per cent of women—almost twice as many as men. Many hormonal factors may contribute to the increased rate of depression in women, particularly during times such as menstrual cycle changes, pregnancy and postpartum, miscarriage, pre-menopause and menopause.

Men: Men with depression typically have a higher rate of feeling irritable, angry and discouraged. This can make it harder to recognize depression in men. The rate of completed suicide in men is four times that in women, although more women attempt suicide.

Older adults: Some people have the mistaken idea that it is normal for older adults to feel depressed. Older adults often don’t want to talk about feeling hopeless or sad or about losing interest in normally pleasurable activities or experiencing prolonged grief after a loss.

Children: A child who is depressed may pretend to be sick, refuse to go to school, cling to a parent or worry that the parent may die. Older children may sulk, get into trouble at school, be negative or grouchy and feel misunderstood. Because normal behaviors vary from one childhood stage to another, it can be difficult to tell whether a child is going through a temporary “phase” or has depression.

 

​​Treatment for depression:

​The most commonly used treatments are pharmacotherapy (medications), psychoeducation, psychotherapy and electroconvulsive therapy. These treatments may be used individually or in combination.

Many who suffer from depression may remain undiagnosed or inadequately treated because of a failure to recognize symptoms, underestimation of severity, limited access to health care, reluctance to see a mental healthcare specialist, noncompliance with treatment, or lack of health insurance. Conventional medical treatment may be problematic for several reasons. First, as many as 35% of patients do not respond to conventional treatment, perhaps more so among those with chronic illness. Second, although compliance with next-generation selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor medications has improved, the dropout rate is as high as 15%. Last, a number of clinical trials have failed to demonstrate a significant difference between active treatment and placebo groups, undermining the public’s confidence in these drugs.

 

Is acupuncture effective to treat depression?

A resounding “yes.”! Acupuncture is indeed a powerful treatment for depression and anxiety. WHO (2003) reported that acupuncture is being increasingly used in psychiatric disorders. The effect of acupuncture on depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke) has been documented repeatedly in controlled studies (189–194). Acupuncture is comparable with amitriptyline in the treatment of depression but has fewer side-effects. In addition, acupuncture has been found to be more effective in depressive patients with decreased excretion of 3-methyl-4-hydroxy-phenylglycol (the principal metabolite of the central neurotransmitter norepinephrine), while amitriptyline is more effective for those with inhibition in the dexamethasone suppression test (192). This suggests that these two therapies work through different mechanisms. Moreover, acupuncture (auricular acupressure) is much more effective than psychotherapy in the treatment of competition stress syndrome, and is worth further study.

 

How can acupuncture treat depression?

Modern research has shown that acupuncture stimulates the body to release chemicals in your body called endorphins. Endorphins are your body’s natural pain-relievers and happy hormone. Moreover, according to acupuncture theories, depression can be the result of an imbalance or blockage in one or more of the body’s organ systems and meridian pathways. When Qi becomes blocked or the quantity of Qi is insufficient and unable to properly nourish the organs, this can lead to illness, disease and emotional upset. Therefore, acupuncture not only can help alleviate the signs and symptoms accompanying depression such anxiety, fatigue, or insomnia, but address the root cause and correct imbalances through unblocking the qi flow so as to restore the health of the organs.