Magpies are ready.
Pollen is ready.
Are you ready???
Spring is here. After a hibernation over winter, it is the season of activity.
But before we get carried away with footy finals and sneezing, it’s that time of year where we check in with our friends, family and co-workers and ask them “R U OK?” R U OK day is on September 13th.
With 1 in 7 Australians experiencing depression at some stage in their life, depression is common. It is more likely to occur during adolescence, pregnancy/postnatal period and in the elderly. It is natural to feel sad and express grief. Wonderfully illustrated in Walt Disney’s In and Out, depression is more than just feeling low or sad or moody and can express itself in a variety of different ways. Depression is a serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.
Symptoms of depression:
- Feeling bad about yourself and/or feeling overwhelmed by pessimism, anger, guilt, irritability and anxiety
- Changes in appetite/weight/sleep patterns
- Varying emotions throughout the day
- Inability to enjoy life
- Reduced interested in sex/pain tolerance
- Poor concentration and memory
- Low motivation to do things that used to matter to you
- Feeling exhausted
When to see help?
If symptoms of depression are severe, last for two weeks or more, and affect your functioning at home or at work. If you need, click here for the link to Lifeline.
What causes depression?
Unfortunately, there is no simple explanation. It is a complex condition that has many factors: genetic and biochemical, physical illness and ageing.
Yin and Yang
Every organ in Chinese Medicine has what’s called a partner organ – one organ is yin, the other organ yang. For example, the liver is a yin organ, and the gallbladder is a yang organ. Together they are the wood element and resonate with spring.
If the liver and gallbladder are supported and balanced during spring, the entire body will benefit and be set up with a strong foundation for the season to come.
According to Chinese medicine the main functions of the liver are to store blood, support the heart and to create and maintain a smooth flow of qi throughout both the body and the mind. When the liver is balanced and functioning well, the liver qi is smooth and active and helps us get things done without stress. When the liver is not functioning well, or the qi is trapped or forced up, we can experience physical and emotional consequences. From the outside, the health of the liver shows in your eyes, nails and can be felt in our tendons, things like tendonitis.
Someone with a less than healthy liver may be operating on an emotional roller coaster, feeling resentment and irritable. A stressed liver in Chinese Medicine, can lead to depression. Whereas a healthy, well-grounded liver enables forward planning with creativity, vision and insight.
Acupuncture and Depression
Studies suggest that acupuncture can have potentially a positive effect on depression. It is a safe and effective treatment especially in regards to improving quality of life, sleep and mood. Acupuncture modulates and normalises the limbic–paralimbic–neocortical network (LPNN)(1).
Acupuncture and Western medicine pharmaceuticals
For those on medication such as SSRIs, studies show that acupuncture plus SSRIs are superior to SSRIs alone, especially when treatment starts early (2).
- Bosch P, van den Noort M, Staudte H, Lim S. Schizophrenia and Depression: A systematic Review of the Effectiveness and the Working Mechanisms Behind Acupuncture. Explore (NY). 2015 Jul-Aug;11(4):281-91.
- Chan YY, Lo WY, Yang SN, Chen YH, Lin JG. The benefit of combined acupuncture and antidepressant medication for depression: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Affect Disord. 2015 May 1;176:106-17.