About 1 in 10 people in the U.S. report depression, the CDC estimates. Whether this is something you’ve experienced yourself or with a friend or family member, depression impacts us all directly and indirectly. Especially as fall sets in, we are all mourning the warmth and happiness of summer. This post looks at how Traditional Chinese Medicine views depression and how one natural remedy fits into the western medicine paradigm.
What Depression Is in Chinese Medicine
In Chinese medicine, everyone is different and every treatment is customized to treat you. However, certain concerns commonly have the same tendency. With depression, practitioners tend to categorize it as what is called qi stagnation. Let’s break it down: qi means energy or life force and stagnation means exactly what it sounds like: obstruction or blockage. Ideally, our bodies’ circulation (or movement) of qi is balanced and free flowing. When qi gets off balance (for example, with an injury or too much anger), our qi stops or stagnates. With this stop, we can often feel pressure, stress, tension, and sadness which can all lead to depression.
One Way to Combat Depression
One way to alleviate stagnated qi is to do physical activity. A moderate amount of physical activity can help balance your qi and lift your spirits, in Chinese medicine. This theory is even backed up by western medicine. Several research studies have found that moderate exercise can prevent depression. This research supports Chinese medicine’s explanation for depression.
Our Most Common Advice for Patients
We often work with patients who have been diagnosed with depression by their physician. Here are 4 tips we commonly suggest to them:
1. Exercise 5 days/week for 20 minutes. Low to medium impact physical activity, such as walking or swimming, is recommended. This will give you a boost in energy and help you make better decisions.
2. Eat 4 balanced small to medium meals everyday (with at least 4 servings of vegetables/day). Keeping your blood sugar stable is key so avoid sweets and pastries. Instead, reach for some fruit as a healthy dessert.
3. Breathe mindfully and be in the present moment as much as possible. Meditation, tai chi, yoga, qi gong…they all help bring you back to where you are.
4. Go to bed before 11 p.m. every night. Making sleep a priority is vital. Getting enough zzz’s every night will help your next day go smoothly.
Although this list is not exhaustive, it’s simply a starting point. There are many natural remedies that can help with depression or sadness in general. Do you have a tip you’d like to share? Please leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.
Source: CDC Report on Depression http://www.cdc.gov/features/dsdepression/
Psychology Today: 25 Studies Confirm: Exercise Prevents Depression http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201310/25-studies-confirm-exercise-prevents-depression