First, depression is very common, and regardless of degree of the depression (mild or severe), this is a condition which is experienced by almost every single human being at one point or another during his/her life time.

Regardless of the severity of the depression, some people refuse to get treatment, and this refusal causes great suffering for families, friends, and the general public. Untreated depression can become a life threatening condition and should be viewed with the same sense of urgency as a heart condition, asthma, and other potentially life threatening conditions.  This condition needs to be treated with both respect and compassion.

Depression is commonly treated with acupuncture. However, the treatment of depression is complicated and frequently requires a team approach.  Patients may need drug therapy, counseling, acupuncture, exercise, nutrition adjustments, or a combination of all of these treatments.

The correct treatment, or combination of treatments, is solution based!  Did the treatment work?  Is the patient getting better?

The US military did a study on both depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  They compared acupuncture treatments to those treatments currently being done by the military. The study concluded that acupuncture is more effective than the current treatment methods.   The diagram below shows the occurrence of depression symptoms while receiving acupuncture as compared to other methods.  This does not mean that other treatments are not effective, they are effective, it simply shows that acupuncture has a place in the toolbox for the treatment of this condition.


Author of the slide above and the study.  Efficacy of Acupuncture for PTSD in Military. Personnel: A Randomized Controlled Trial by Charles C. Engel, MD, MPH, Colonel, Medical Corps, US Army Director, DoD Deployment Health Clinical Center at Walter Reed.  Assoc Professor & Assist Chair (Research) Senior Scientist, Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress.  Department of Psychiatry F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine (Link to study).

We must first determine the type of depression we are treating and select the treatment based on symptoms presenting.

Emotional Stagnation
This precursor to depression usually occurs when a person is unable to grow professionally or has problems in his/her personal life. Symptoms of emotional stagnation include frequent sighing, belching, loss of appetite, excess appetite, frequent alcohol use, drug use, PMS, insomnia, waking from sleep between 1 AM – 3 AM on a consistent bases, and tightness in throat.

Seasonal Depression
This pattern of depression is frequently seen around a specific date, holiday, changes in weather, and the amount of daytime sunlight.  Seasonal depression is common and should be respected.

Emotional Stagnation turning to Rage
Symptoms of this condition include agitation, suspicion, anger, yelling at family and friends, red eyes, recurring headaches on the sides of the head.  Road rage is perfect example of this condition; a normally calm person bursts into anger while driving.

Note: When dealing with someone in this state use kindness, agreement, and reassuring words to help defuse a tense situation.  Remember, it’s not easy being human and once the person calms down a logical solution can be found.

Emotional Stagnation and Phlegm
Emotional stagnation with phlegm symptoms can be associate with weight gain, coughing up phlegm, heavy headedness, feeling of being heavy, difficulty getting out of bed or moving, fatigue, symptoms can be worse with damp or humid weather.

Hormone imbalance / Blood loss / Recovery from Illness or Injury
Symptoms associated with this pattern my include extreme emotional reactions, alternating happiness and anger, fatigue, hot flashes, night sweating, bloating, back pain, missed periods, and menopause type symptoms.

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Reference Web Sites
1. Balanced Health Services
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