By Dr. Cheryl Yelverton – Plantation, Florida – In 2015, The World Health Organization – WHO – reported that 16.1 million American adults had gone through at least one episode of depression in the previous year. Considering that the country has more than 250 million adults, that figure is quite substantial. The report also indicated that 3 million adolescents had also suffered the same problem.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home. Depression is responsible for 60% of the suicides that take place in the US.
Causes of Depression
According to WebMD, depression is an extremely complex disease. No one knows exactly what causes it, but it can occur for a variety of reasons. Some people experience depression during a serious medical illness. Others may have depression with life changes such as a move or the death of a loved one. Still others have a family history of depression. Those who do may experience depression and feel overwhelmed with sadness and loneliness for no known reason.
Symptoms of Depression
- A loss of interest in activities that the patient used to enjoy in the past
- Bouts of irritation
- A tendency toward suicidal thoughts
- Feelings of low self-worth
- Little sleep
- Too much sleep
- Mood swings
Western Medical approaches to Depression
- Pharmaceuticals – The most common medicines for depression are antidepressants such as Prozac, Celexa and Paxil. These drugs should only be taken under the guidance of a professional. Patients need to be aware of possible side effects as well as costs of these drugs.
- Psychotherapy – This is also known as talking therapy. The patient visits the professional, and the two talk about what the patient is going through. The patient is encouraged to open up and talk about what they feel, what triggers it and what goes on in their minds when depressed. By listening to the patient, the doctor is able to identify their specific problem and find a way of addressing it.
- Electroconvulsive therapy – is a rather intricate approach to depression. It involves the use of electrical currents on the patient’s brain. When the current flows through, the patient experiences a number of mini seizures, and these influence how the body responds to depression. This therapy has been documented as very effective in older patients, especially those above 60 years of age. It generally works better on patients who have a history of responding positively to depression treatments. It is also most effective when used alongside antidepressants.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) – is a treatment currently used to relieve symptoms of menopause such as night sweats and hot flashes. HRT can also help prevent bone-thinning osteoporosis and most recently has been prescribed to relieve depression in women.
Acupuncture for Depression
According to an Allen et al. (2006) study, women who use acupuncture as a way of getting rid of menopausal disorders along with symptoms of depression generally get relief faster and more effectively than those who choose other conventional approaches.
In 2014, the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published a report with an interesting set of statistics. Experts used electro-acupuncture to treat patients weekly over a stretch of 6 weeks. In the control group, the researchers went with Prozac. In the first two weeks, the rate of improvement was the same in both groups. In the period after, those using acupuncture achieved more sustainable, lasting relief over time as opposed to the control group.
The above journal also published a study that pointed to the fact that acupuncture works great on people going through a stretch of low sex drive, a notable consequence of depression. The patients in this study went through acupuncture treatment for 12 weeks. In the days after, they were happier, livelier, and more open to the idea of intimacy. Scientists see this as a great step toward understanding the relationship between depression, sex drive and acupuncture.
Kurland HD (1976) talks about a study where patients underwent electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) and electro-acupuncture (EAT). The victims had a noted history of not responding very well to conventional treatment. When ECT was used, they felt and looked better but also experienced confusion as well as loss of memory. However, when EAT was added as one of the forms of treatment, the memory loss and confusion were no longer experienced. It is believed that these forms of treatment are capable of influencing the action of neurotransmitters in the brain, eliciting a change in the brain’s map that leads to the patient experiencing relief.
Our acupuncture clinic in Plantation, Florida has a keen interest in how acupuncture works to treat depression in patients. We have treated hundreds of patients suffering from depression with our unique brand of holistic medicine, and we are confident that we can help you too. Please give us a call to get started today!