(By Paolo Propato, LAc) In the clinic lately, I have been seeing more and more patients with depression. This is an issue that many people I love suffer from while those around them never even know. Everyone feels sadness from time to time. It is a natural and useful emotion when needed. But sometimes sadness or a low mood may linger and begin to interfere with our daily lives. Some become accustomed, and believe this is just the way it has to be. Symptoms include: loss of interest in activities that used to be pleasurable; problems falling asleep, disrupted sleep, or sleeping too much; eating too little or eating too much; feeling tired or fatigued; inability to focus; feeling easily agitated or irritated; feelings of guilt or worthlessness; thoughts of suicide, or thinking more about death.
Patients suffering from symptoms of depression many times will also come in with digestive issues, headaches and vague pains. Sometimes these symptoms are the motivation for the acupuncture visits, but during treatment we find that these symptoms are a part of “masked” depression. This is a state of depression that usually has physical symptoms, while the component of emotions and mood is hidden.
Eastern medicine examines the health of the physical and mental body from the quality and movement of the blood and qi. In Chinese, depression is called yu zheng which also translates as “constraint.” Internal “constraint” may stem from emotional factors. Many patients can link a specific experience or stressor in their lives, like a stressful relationship or death of a loved one, to the pathology of yu zheng.
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