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Natural Solutions for DEPRESSION

Kirk Mann, M.Ac. L.A.c, Ventura Acupuncture Clinic

Winston Churchill called it “The Black Dog in the Corner of the Room” -- and it has dwelled in the dark corner of our culture and our lives for a very long time. I’m talking, of course, about depression.

At one time or another, most humans experience feelings of depression. Deep feelings of sadness, hopelessness, despair, and overall emptiness -- accompanied by insomnia, low energy, and loss of appetite -- are all possible signs. For many, depression can prove both overwhelming and debilitating. 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15-44. Affecting approximately 14.8 million American adults in any given year. While MDD can develop at any age, the median age at onset is 32, and it occurs more frequently in women than in men.

The causes of depression are as varied and complex as humanity. Any manifestation of disease, whether emotional or physical, is a call for change. We are so busy with our routines we ignore important signals from the mind and body. Suppressing symptoms may prevent us from responding constructively—risking a deepening of the underlying disturbance.

What To Do?

Conventional medicine views depression as a bio-chemical phenomenon. The patient is a victim of genetic and chemical factors and has little or no control over them. Caring physicians and psychiatrists try to relieve deep emotional pain by prescribing psychotropic, mind-altering drugs -- antidepressants being the number one seller amongst all drugs sold in the U.S.A.

The sad reality here is that most pharmaceutical drugs are palliative. That is, they may relieve symptoms without treating the underlying cause of disease. Side effects are well known and well documented: lethargy, loss of libido, weight gain, headaches, suicidal impulses, flat emotional feelings, dry mouth, nausea. The health of the kidneys and liver may also be adversely affected.
Despite these side effects, palliation can prove useful when it helps lead the patient out of depression and provides relief. Unfortunately, in all too many cases, when you take away the medication, the symptoms resurface with increased intensity. Drug dependency can often develop.

The Problem is “Yu,” The Solution is You.

In Chinese Medicine, depression is called “Yu Syndrome.” “Yu” is translated as stagnation. This means the circulation of energy (qi) and blood in the body is impeded, causing a depressed state. There can be emotional, situational, and physical causes of stagnation. The resolution is to stimulate the movement of qi and blood. Acupuncture, moxabustion, herbal medicine, acupressure, nutrition, and breathing techniques are employed to stimulate the flow of qi and blood. With the harmonious flow of qi and blood, depression eases and emotional balance is restored. Classical homeopathy endeavors to deeply understand the patient at all levels. Practitioners gather specific physical, emotional, and mental symptoms to select remedies based on the totality of the individual patient. The homeopathic practitioner recognizes the many subtle differences in patients suffering depression. Remedies have the potential to enhance vitality and self-awareness, enabling us to go beyond limiting patterns.

The Natural Way

There are general measures that we all can take to combat depression…natural solutions that can help turn the tide of depressive symptoms and feelings. Here are a few ways to help yourself to feel better:

1. Exercise daily and breathe deeply whenever possible. Exercise and deep breathing will definitely elevate your mood. Hiking, walking, aerobic exercise, yoga, tai chi, qi gong, pilates, swimming, and biking are excellent choices. We can choose to breathe deeply whenever and wherever we want – just remind yourself to breathe! Deep breathing helps the circulation of energy and blood throughout the body. 

2. Celebrate the Sun. Get at least 15 to 20 minutes of natural sunlight every day. The rays of the sun affect hormone balance in the body as well as vitamin D production. Vitamin D is now proven essential to human health and immunity. Calcium uptake is also Vitamin D-dependent – and our bones and deep immunity benefit from natural light. Even if the sky is cloudy, spend some time outdoors daily. Your mood will be enhanced! 

3. Eat a balanced diet  -- organic and natural whole foods when possible. Vegetarian oriented, plant based diets are most helpful…and a high quality multiple vitamin/mineral supplement daily covers your nutritional bases.

4. Avoid recreational drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. These substances deeply affect the body and mind and may ultimately contribute to depression.

5. Communicate. Talking it out is most essential to overcome feelings of depression. Talk to a friend or family member if possible. Seek out professional or spiritual counsel when necessary.

6. Reflect. Spend at least 20 minutes daily in prayer, meditation, reading, or listening to uplifting material. Exploring the purpose and meaning of life – the search for knowledge and understanding -- is imperative.

7. Explore Herbal medicines and nutritive substance alternatives to drugs. Natural substances must be chosen based on the individual pattern of disharmony. The quality and quantity of herbs and supplements are extremely important for a therapeutic response.

8. Consider natural health care. Many people can derive real benefit from acupuncture, homeopathy, acupressure, massage, chiropractic, naturopathy, and herbal medicine.

9. Get some sleep. Rest and relaxation are critical elements to wellness and healing -- for mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well being. Insomnia and sleep disorders must be corrected in order to regain health and balance. 

Napping a minimum of 20 minutes and maximum of 30 minutes daily is extremely therapeutic. Napping helps rejuvenate the body, mind, and spirit bringing forth new energy throughout the day. 

There are many roads to overcoming depression, but we cannot rely entirely on medication to heal ourselves. Natural solutions may not be the easiest way to go, but they will pay real dividends down the road. Holistic medicine empowers the individual by giving tools to stimulate and nourish our body, treating the roots of illness, and promoting deep healing on all levels: mind, body, and spirit.

Kirk’s considerable expertise encompasses a multitude of healing disciplines—including gentle acupuncture, acupressure, Chinese herbal medicine, classical homeopathy, reflexology, polarity therapy, scalp acupuncture, shiatsu, and Chinese face reading.

Relax. Renew. Feel Better.

Comprehensive Holistic Healthcare
Serving Ventura County since 1995

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Welcome to the Ventura Acupuncture Clinic, where our focus is on caring, comprehensive restorative treatment. Kirk Mann, M.Ac. L.A.c, is a licensed acupuncturist with a holistic, compassionate health approach that integrates gentle acupuncture, nutrition, herbal medicine, Chinese medicine, classical homeopathy and a range of physical therapeutics (including reflexology, acupressure, shiatsu, moxibustion, tui na) into your treatment. Ventura Acupuncture Clinic is proud to serve the cities of Ventura, Oxnard, Ojai, Camarillo, Santa Barbara, Santa Paula, and Fillmore.