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At the Kokin Healing Center, we're all about education. We love to empower our patients to learn how to take good care of their bodies; and we're always learning ourselves. In that spirit, the Healing Blog is a place for us to teach and to learn. We hope you enjoy these posts and share them with friends, family and colleagues.

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Research Update: Acupuncture and Depression

Worldwide, nearly 350 million people suffer from depression and nearly 16 million of those are in the United States alone. Statistics show women tend to be more likely to experience depression and young adults between the ages of 18 to 22 are also at a higher risk. Symptoms of depression include extreme irritability over minor issues, anxiety, restlessness, irrational anger, lack of interest in everyday activities, thoughts of death, insomnia, severe fatigue, weight gain/loss, difficulty concentrating and unexplained aches and pains. When these symptoms occur for more than a few weeks, depression may be the reason behind them.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is very effective in treating depression, not only short-term, but also long-term. Modern medicine usually treats depression with antidepressants and psychotherapy regardless of the presenting symptoms. In contrast, TCM diagnoses each patient on an individual basis and treats the specific symptoms, while also addressing the root of the illness, whether it be a chemical imbalance or particular stressor. It is also important to remember that acupuncture works excellent in conjunction with psychotherapy and medications, with no negative interactions.

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can help alleviate symptoms of depression while also addressing the imbalance, thus helping to create more harmony between mind and body. The mind and body are inseparable and should be treated as a whole, which is the approach used by acupuncturists. When we experience emotional challenges and become upset, our physical body may become affected as well. Then a vicious cycle begins because the emotions are greatly impacted by what we can and cannot do physically.    

The theory behind treating depression using TCM revolves around the concept of Qi (pronounced “chee”). Qi is considered the vital energy that flows through the body and animates everything. When Qi is blocked or stagnant, illness can take root, either physically or mentally. Qi flows throughout the body on energetic pathways or meridians. Each energetic meridian is associated with an organ and each organ has its own emotion. For example, the emotion of the liver meridian is anger. When Qi is blocked and liver Qi stagnation occurs, anger can then manifest. From the same standpoint, if a person is excessively angry, the flow of Qi can be blocked creating stagnation.     

Recent research demonstrates that the brain enters a relaxed state during acupuncture and meditative breathing.  This has a very strong chemical effect on the body, releasing endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine - natural pain killers. This in turn improves the flow of Qi throughout the body while eliminating blockages and bringing balance to the mind and body. 

If you are suffering from depression and are looking for a natural way of dealing with it, contacting our office might be exactly what you need. We can help you navigate the waters of depression without the harmful side-effects of pharmaceuticals, while helping you get back to a happier life.

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