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Many of us feel depressed at one time or another, but for some, depression may be chronic and even debilitating.
Emotions are a normal part of our life. We all experience anger, sadness, worry or fear on occasion and it does not lead to disease. It only leads to health problems when emotions are excessive or repressed for long periods of time. Emotional stress will tend to weaken your "Qi", or energy, or your Qi can stagnate or move in the wrong direction.
Depression can also start from a physical source. For example, insomnia, working too much, or a chronic illness can weaken your Qi, resulting in being upset easily or out or proportion to the situation. A weakened digestive system or lack of proper fluids can cause the quality or quantity of blood to be poor, resulting in depression. A lack of exercise easily leads to Qi stagnation and depression.
Long-standing depression may be due to repressed anger or resentment. In Chinese Medicine, this most commonly affects the Qi of the Liver, causing it to stagnate. Aside from depression, other symptoms of Liver Qi Stagnation may be irritability, "snapping" easily, and intense feelings of frustration and impatience. Physical symptoms of Liver Qi Stagnation may include distention under the rib cage, stomach area, or abdomen, belching, sighing, nausea, moodiness, a feeling of a lump in the throat, and pre-menstrual irritability and breast tenderness. If the Qi of the Lungs or Heart has stagnated, symptoms may include weeping and sadness, and you may be easily affected by the problems of people around you.
Though usually in the early stages of depression only the Qi of various organs is affected, eventually this leads to other problems such as formation of dampness, phlegm, blood stagnation, or heat. This causes further stagnation and can lead to a vicious cycle. Liver Qi Stagnation can disrupt the functioning of the digestive system and lead to weight gain, even if you are eating normal amounts.
Once the possibility of man and depression has been cross-linked inside of the mind a a depressed male, you now have the challenge of judgment to deal with. Men often judge others who struggle with depression as weak. Or, even if they accept and support someone who's depressed, they will not afford themselves the same love and acceptance. This is a real stopper. Some men, realizing they are a man and depression is permeating their life will live in isolation for years. That man might think, "I can do this on my own. No one must know about this or... If I were only strong enough... If my marriage were only better... If I had the right job..." Any of this sounding familiar?
There is stigma in general around being depressed, no matter your gender but you can triple that for the man and depression sufferer. Depression in men who even recognize and seek treatment for it, often sabotage themselves by stopping medication too early and they stop using the life skills they were taught to battle depression. Man and depression have a long way to go.
Often the drugs given to treat depression cause further stagnation and accumulation of dampness, perpetuating the underlying physical cause. Western drugs can be an important part of the treatment, especially if there is a danger the patient will possibly harm themselves or others, or if it makes it possible for the patient to function enough to seek additional means of help. It is extremely important to address the underlying problem, whether through acupuncture, herbs, counseling, light therapy, nutrition, exercise, or a combination of treatments. Never abruptly stop your prescription, and only reduce it gradually with the supervision of your Western health care provider. If you decide to take herbs or amino acids, make sure they are compatible with your medications.
If your depression results from lack of energy, mild exercise is best, and will increase your energy gradually. If stagnation is the problem, moderate exercise will be beneficial. Avoid alcohol, marijuana, and coffee since they cause Qi to stagnate. Eating a balanced diet with nutritious foods and drinking at least two quarts of water per day can be very helpful. Getting adequate rest and planning fun activities can elevate your mood.
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