Authors: Han-Wen Liang O.M.D. LAc.

As we know, in the recent years, more and more people are suffering from depression despite the difference in age, sex, race, and occupation. It is an emotional disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. Depression is a chronic emotional disease that should be evaluated and addressed cautiously before it leads to other major health problems.

Depression, also known as Melancholia in medical terminology, is identified as a mental disorder or depressed in mind and spirit. This disorder consists of various symptoms, including insomnia, unstable emotion, depressed mood, feeling of weakness, lack of appetite, low energy, hyper-somnia, etc. These various symptoms could be caused by emotional stress, working pressure, pressure from study, postpartum stress, etc. In TCM principle, depression is a disease caused by prolonged stagnant of qi, blood, phlegm, and dampness. And the three major organs associated with depression are liver, heart, and spleen.

There are some other causes of depression:
• Genetics or family history of depression
• Life changes such as death of a loved one, unemployed, or even a happy event
• A chemical imbalance in the brain
• Certain illnesses or medications
• Using drugs or too much alcohol

Most emotional stresses can cause injures to these organs: liver, heart, and spleen. For example, anger injures the liver, which causing Liver-Qi stagnation and blazing liver fire that disturbs the mind. Pensiveness injures the spleen, which leads to deficient Qi and blood. When Qi and blood are deficient, they fail to nurture the heart. Moreover, overexertion and excessive thinking exhaust heart blood, which can fail to nourish the spirit.

According to the cause of depression, liver problems are very common in the clinical manifestations such as stagnation of Liver-Qi, Liver-Blood deficiency, and Liver-Ying deficiency. Based on the concept of Chinese internal medicine, our livers cause all emotional problems, and every emotional problem will injure the liver.

Depression can affect anyone. But with treatment, most people can start feeling better. Through traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) therapy, the herbs can help restore the brain's chemical imbalance and return to normal functioning. They also can help relieve symptoms of depression. These medications are not considered as habit-forming, but their use needs to be closely monitored as part of a supervised treatment plan.

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* Articles Originally Published in SUN TEN Quarterly Newsletter Fall 2007

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