Did you know that tapping into the ancient wisdom of Chinese medicine is a great way to overcome the negative patterns and life altering effects of both depression and anxiety? There is no doubt about the crippling effects that mental health issues have on the lives of those caught up either personally or through affected loved ones. “According to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010, major depressive disorder (MDD) was ranked the second leading cause of years lived with disability, after low back pain, accounting for 8.2% of all years lived with disability (Ferrari et al., 2013). Although rates of depression and anxiety are about twice as high amongst women than men, overall incidence is on the rise. The subsequent increased burden upon global healthcare systems because of these two conditions is significant. With a nearly 50% relapse rate among the population (Sniezek & Siddiqui 2013), these conditions are notoriously difficult to overcome.

Pharmaceutical medications commonly given to treat depression can lead to weight gain, loss of libido, nausea, headaches and insomnia and medications for anxiety such as benzodiazepines are highly addictive. In some cases, the extensive side effects lead to a drop in the number of people willing to continue taking pharmaceuticals.

Current and past research into the use of Chinese medicine treatment including acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine for anxiety and depression is highly positive and promising. The World Health Organisation (WHO) advocates the use of acupuncture for depression as well as anxiety in which WHO states that it can be more effective than conventional medicine given that it is safe, non-toxic, non-addictive, cost effective and having only minor side effects such as mild discomfort associated with needle insertion (WHO, 2002; Goyata et al, 2016).

There are over 300 clinical trials that have been carried out to study the effectiveness of Chinese medicine treatment for depression and anxiety. These studies all universally yielded positive and encouraging results.

For example, one of the most recent studies, published this year in 2017, looked at the effect of acupuncture for 755 participants with depression. The result was expectedly positive with a significant reduction in depressive symptoms leading to the conclusion that acupuncture is clinically effective and cost effective even for severe cases of depression (MacPherson, 2017). There are also laboratory studies which looked into the mechanisms for how acupuncture is effective for relieving anxiety and depression. These studies found acupuncture’s effect may be related to its capability in releasing serotonin and regulating cortisol level within the body (Sarris et al 2012) as well as exerting anti-inflammatory effects (Lu et al 2016).

The use of Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM) has been extensively researched since the 80’s and even before then Chinese medicine doctors have had a strong interest in treating anxiety and depression; as a result they have developed almost 100 different formulae for the condition. The vast varieties in the formula reflect the holistic nature of this medical system; the herbal medicine prescription is tailored for each person according to his or her unique presentation of signs and symptoms, root problem and the pattern of bodily disharmony.

All the published clinical trials have consistently shown effectiveness in treating anxiety and depression, particularly when combined with other therapies. A recent study from 2012 shows CHM shows a significant reduction in recurrence of the symptoms of Generalised Anxiety Disorder when combined with cognitive therapy (Wang et al, 2012). Other studies have shown that the combination of CHM and antidepressants significantly relieves depressive symptoms as well as reduces side effects of the antidepressants (Sorbero et al 2016; Yeung et al 2014). In terms of neurophysiology, Chinese herbal medicine was found to exert mood modulating effects by regulating the function of the hippocampus and amygdala leading to relieving of symptoms and signs of anxiety and depression (Zhu et al 2016; Sarris et al 2012).

If you suffer from depression and anxiety and would like to explore your options with the help of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicines, make an appointment to see one of our registered practitioners today by calling 03 5956 7011 or booking an appointment online!