Thursday, November 19, 2009


I’ve recently seen a few clients with varying degrees of depression. The first two I’m going to mention are in their 60’s who have been suffering from depression for more than twenty years and have been taking anti-depressants for just as long. Both of them wanted to try some alternative treatments to help them feel better. My purpose was to not only help them feel better, but to also try and wean them off their medication. With TCM, we believe that any medicine is toxic for the body. I knew that this would be a long term treatment and it would take some time before they would feel a difference. I spent quite a bit of time with each of these clients during their first treatment session, explaining how TCM treats the problem, how acupuncture and herbs work for it, what to expect and so on. Unfortunately, both cancelled their appointments before even seeing me for a second treatment. The interesting thing is that they both called me between 10-11pm to cancel. (Keep in mind that these people don’t know each other at all!) I didn't persuade them to continue treatment because I knew that for this kind of problem (these two cases in particular) and because they have already suffered with depression for so long, it would take an extended period of time for them to feel any difference. What they need is family support and belief in TCM. I couldn’t help but think about why they both called so late at night to cancel. My guess is that when night falls and it becomes dark, a feeling of hopelessness starts to set in and so they began to believe that no alternative treatment could help them. So, they decided to give up and cancel.

I had another client in her 30’s who, shortly after giving birth, felt depressed, sad, insomnia and not herself. I treated her with acupuncture and after just one session she felt a difference. This reminds me of another client; same age group and situation, but with a more serious case of depression. She was feeling sad, hopeless and felt as if she had nothing to live for. After less than ten treatments, she was back to her normal self.

All three cases make me wonder why some people can see a difference more quickly than others. Age is definitely one factor. Acupuncture uses the body’s own healing power to help cure the problem. When you are younger, the body's ability to recovery is stronger; thus a quicker recovery rate. In the case of the two young women, they only suffered from depression for one to three months and didn't take any medication. There are also other factors. We know that from Western medicine, depression is caused by low levels of monoamines. Anti-depressants are used to increase monoamines level and relieve the symptoms. However, this medication also suppresses the body to produce monoamines. With my two older clients, after being on anti-depressants for so many years, their bodies were so used to relying on the medication to produce monoamines. It's as if their body’s natural ability to produce monoamines went into hibernation. This is why it would take some time before their bodies would be able to produce monoamines naturally.

If you are experiencing any symptoms of depression, you may want to consider alternative methods of treatment in order to avoid possibly taking anti-depressants on a long term basis. I hope I can help bring the sunshine back into your life.