By Mathew Enright, AP, DOM (AP1711) – Palm Beach Gardens, Fl – A 2015 WHO report indicated that 16.1 million Americans aged 16 and above had dealt with a depressive instance over the previous year. In a country of over 250 million adults, that’s quite a number. Additionally, 3 million adolescents had also experienced the same problem. Keep in mind that these numbers are only obtained from people who actually seek help.
What is depression?
According to Psychiatry.org, depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home. Fortunately, it is also treatable with acupuncture and Chinese medicine.
Causes of Major Depressive Disorder
Experts do not yet have a conclusive answer as to what causes this problem. They do know that there are situations that heighten the chances of it occurring in an individual, and these include genetics, hormones, pre-existing conditions, alcohol and steroids.
- Decreased interest in normal daily activities and hobbies
- Irritable episodes
- Low self esteem
- Little/too much sleep
- Suicidal ideation
Western Medical solutions for MDD
- Medication – You will need a doctor’s prescription to obtain these drugs, as different patients need different medications. Talk to your doctor about the possible side effects before going for the drug. Anti-depressants include Celexa, Prozac and Paxil.
- Psychotherapy – Here, a medical professional meets the patient in order to understand their problem and its triggers. The professional speaks with the patient in a way that encourages open conversation. Its an exploration of the self that sheds light on the specific problem suffered by the patient and helps the professional tailor a specific remedy for each patient. It can be administered to a single individual or groups of individuals.
- Electroconvulsive therapy – ECT is a little more complex than many other approaches to this problem. A specialist passes electric current through your brain. The result is a series of seizures that change how the brain handles depressive episodes. It is a highly effective approach when used on people suffering from mental illness. The Prolonging Remission in Depressed Elderly (PRIDE) study indicated that the approach works best for those above 60. The patients tended to fare better if they used ECT together with an antidepressant. The effect on patients with a positive history of MDD treatments was better than it was for first-time patients.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) – It is mostly applied on women, who are known to be more likely to suffer from depression than men. While it is effective when used for mood swings, it has also proven useful to women who are trying to cope with the psychological changes brought about by the advent of menopause.
Acupuncture and Major Depressive Disorder
Acupuncture has a documented history of success in the treatment of depression. Allen et al. (2006) conducted a study in which all subjects were female. The team wanted to determine how acupuncture works in women with depressive disorders. Interestingly, women who used acupuncture as a relief experienced significantly more positive results than the control groups.
A 2014 report in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showcased another study. In the study, electroacupuncture was used on patients 5 days each week over a period of 6 weeks. In another set of patients, Prozac was used. The first two weeks showed almost similar results for both groups. However, in the third and fourth, those on acupuncture seemed to race ahead in terms of improvement.
The same journal also published a study showing that acupuncture is capable of helping people deal with low sex drive, which is one of the effects of depression. After receiving acupuncture treatment for 12 weeks, the subjects generally felt upbeat and way more open to intimacy, even if they still felt slightly depressed. Experts laud this as a milestone, as it has always been very difficult to link MDD and low sex drive.
A Kurland HD (1976) report discusses an event in which patients received electroconvulsive therapy and electroacupuncture. These patients had a history of non-response to regular medication and were considered very ill. ECT made them less depressive but caused memory loss and confusion.
When EAT was used together with ECT, the sense of confusion and memory loss disappeared. The two seemed to have worked together to change the response tendencies of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine. Some experts out there believe that when acupuncture is customized for a specific MDD patient, it initiates electrical activity and blood movements within the body that lead to healing.
At our Palm Beach Gardens acupuncture clinic, we have perfected our treatment protocols in acupuncture for depression. We have worked hard to understand how MDD works and can tailor our acupuncture treatments to the needs of patients. The result has been numerous patients getting better after walking through our doors. Apart from acupuncture, we use other traditional Chinese medical approaches to help patients emerge stronger, such as elecro-acupuncture, Chinese herbal therapy and nutritional support. Call our Palm Beach Gardens clinic today for a free consultation..