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January 28th, 2012 | Posted in Emotions+Stress

DEPRESSION (also called unipolar depression or clinical depression) is a type of mental illness or mood disorder in which someone has strong sad feelings, feelings of guilt, helplessness, anxiety (worry), and/or fear, lowered self-esteem and a loss of interest in life which lasts for a long time. Some people who are depressed think about suicide.

Many people feel sad, discouraged, or “down” once in a while, but for some people, this mood does not go away and if they are prolonged, these feelings may lead to depression.

Probably the most effective single treatment for the vast majority of depressed patients of all ages is simple exercise. (See, Dunn, A., Exercise for Depression Rivals Drugs, Therapy, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, January 2005; vol 28: pp 1-8. National Institutes for Mental Health, “Depression.” News release, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.)

In order to help motivate people to exercise and to help with the symptoms of depression, acupuncture can be very effective and treats it according to tcm diagnosis of symptoms which originate from excess or deficiency in the functioning of the organs.

Excess Conditions:

  • Liver Qi Stagnation – This is a primary component of most other differentations.
  • Phlegm Qi Depression – Arises from a Liver Qi imbalance leading to a stagnation of body fluids which over time turns into phlegm.
  • Retention of Phlegm-Damp – Arises from a Spleen Qi deficiency.

Deficient Conditions:

  • Heart & Spleen Deficiency – may lead to a Blood deficiency.
  • Spleen & Kidney Deficiency – may arise with Liver Qi stagnation or Liver Yin deficiency.


Ten percent of people have depression at some time in their lives. Depression happens most often in people between the ages of 24 and 44 years. About two times as many women as men have depression. However, many experts think that men do not seek help for depression as often as women.


The DSM-IV-TR (a manual used to diagnose mental illness) says that the two main parts of depression are:

  1. depressed mood,
  2. loss of interest or pleasure.
  • feelings of much sadness, or no emotion
  • less interest in things that are normally fun
  • changing appetite (wanting to eat) and weight
  • sleeping more, or less
  • fatigue (feeling tired) of mind and body
  • feelings of guilt, helplessness, anxiety (worry), and/or fear
  • lowered self-esteem
  • thinking about death or suicide
  • drug or alcohol use.

Depression in children is harder to notice. Signs a child may have depression include:   loss of appetite (wanting to eat),  sleep problems such as nightmares.

  • problems with behavior or grades at school where there were none before.
  • In older children and adolescents (teenagers), another sign may be the use of drugs and alcohol. Most people who have not had depression do not completely understand its effects. Instead, they see it as simply being sad. Since it is not understood, many people with depression are criticized by others for not helping themselves.

Depression is a syndrome of many symptoms that relate to each other, and is not just sad feeling. Medical measurements have shown that there are big changes in the chemicals in the brain, and that the whole brain slows down during depression. Depression that is not treated may get worse. Good exercise helps deal with depression.

TYPES OF DEPRESSION Major depression is also referred to as major depressive disorder or biochemical, clinical, endogenous, or biological depression. There are many subtypes of depression:

  • Melancholia is very severe (bad), and has a number of major physical symptoms, like sleep and appetite changes, weight gain, and withdrawal.
  • Psychotic depression is like to melancholia, with hallucinations or delusions.
  • Atypical depression causes anxiety and panic attacks.
  • Chronic dysthymic disorder is a long-term, mild depression that lasts for at least two years. It often begins in adolescence and lasts several decades.
  • Major depression may also be called unipolar affective disorder.


No one cause for depression has been found, but there are some things that can be involved. These things can cause depression, or make it worse:

  • Heredity (genes) Depression is known to be inherited (someone whose parent or parents are depressed would be more likely to get it).
  • Physiology The amounts of some chemicals in the brain. Serotonin is the main chemical in the brain that has to do with happiness. Many antidepressant medication works to balance the amount of serotonin in the brain.
  • Psychological factors Low self-esteem and harmful thinking
  • Early experiences Events such as the death of a parent, abandonment or rejection, neglect, chronic illness, and severe physical, psychological, or sexual abuse
  • Life experiences Losing a job, problems with money, death of a loved one, or other life problems can cause depression.
  • Medical conditions Some illnesses such as hepatitis or mononucleosis may contribute to depression. Some medicines like birth control pills and steroids can too.
  • Alcohol and other drugs. Alcohol can make one more sad. The abuse of alcohol, benzodiazepine-based tranquillizers, sleeping medications, or narcotics can influence the duration and harshness of depression.

Conventional Treatment: Medication and therapy.

  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) may be used if other antidepressant medications do not work well. This kind of medicine can cause problems with many kinds of food and drugs. An example is Tranylcypramine.
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are now the most commonly used family of antidepressant medicine. These drugs work by allowing the brain to have more serotonin. There are fewer side-effects with this kind of drug. An example is Fluoxetine (Prozac).Sometimes, antidepressant medicine works better when it is used together with another drug that is not an antidepressant. These “augmentor” drugs are:
  • Tranquillizers and sedatives, may be used to ease anxiety (worries) and help sleep.
  • Antipsychotics are used to keep mood from changing.
  • Lithium is often used for bipolar disorder, but also can help people with depression.
  • If someone with depression does not take their medicine the right way, they can relapse. It can cause the depression to get worse. If someone with depression wants to change their medication, or stop using it, they should do so with help from a doctor.
  • Psychotherapy. In psychotherapy, someone with depression is helped to understand and solve the problems with depression. Psychotherapy can help a person make changes in thought, help with relationship problems, find and fix relapses, and understand what makes depression worse. The most effective psychotherapy for depression is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). In CBT the depressed patient is taught how to think in a more rational, positive, realistic manner thus decreasing the negative distortions that produce depressed moods.

Electroconvulsive therapy  also called electroshock therapy, shock therapy, or ECT is used to treat a small percentage of severely depressed people. ECT uses a small amount of electricity to cause an artificial epileptic seizure while the patient is sedated. Some memory loss or amnesia may occur.

For Support Groups check out :  Aware Helping to Defeat Depression    loCall Helpline:   1890 303 302. www.aware.ie