By Danisha Bogue, L.Ac. - December 19, 2022
Categories: General

Going into the holiday season, it’s not unusual for people to deal with feelings of sadness, loneliness, and even depression. Calendars are especially packed this year with socializing back in full swing, and dealing with family members can be a minefield of emotions. Symptoms may become more obvious with the heightened expectations of getting together and being merry. If you find yourself having a harder time getting out of bed in the morning, not enjoying your favorite activities, or worrying more than usual, your common holiday blues may be depression. The good news is that Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture have been proven to reduce the effects of depression over time.

Signs of Depression

  • Having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Losing or gaining weight quickly
  • Lack of enjoyment of favorite activities
  • Feeling exhausted most of the time
  • Feeling irritable most of the time
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Aches and pains throughout the body
  • Abusing drugs or alcohol

You may have one or many of these symptoms, but the most important factor is that you feel something is off. You know that you’re not feeling like your normal self. Whether it’s eating and sleeping too much to fill the time because you are not enjoying doing your usual activities or eating too little or hardly sleeping because you are too anxious to do so. Signs of anxiety can mask depression, but they are two sides of the same coin simply manifesting differently in the body.

For Western medicine, depression is seen as residing mainly in the brain due to a chemical or hormonal imbalance in the brain. It’s treated with antidepressants and/or anti-anxiety medications and/or psychotherapy (talk therapy.) Outside events like trauma or loss may trigger the onset of symptoms but it is generally seen as a problem in the brain.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, which treats the whole body, depression is treated by studying all aspects of the patient’s health to find the stagnation of the Qi in the body. Depression can originate in different parts of the body and by studying the symptoms a patient is presenting, the correct part of the body can be focused on.

The 5 Types of Depression

  1. Qi Stagnation: depression caused by Qi stagnation may present as constriction in the chest area with coughing or indigestion in the esophagus. The patient might have a tight or Xian pulse and a red tongue with a white coating. Herbs recommended for Qi stagnation are Bai Zhu, Chuan Xiong, Xiang Fu, Zhi Zi, and Shen Qu.
  2. Qi Stagnation in Gallbladder and Stomach: depression with phlegm heat with anxiety, palpitations, nausea, and sleep disturbed by bizarre dreams. The patients can have choppy (Hua) or Xian pulses and tongues with a yellow coating. Herbs recommended for Qi stagnation with gallbladder and stomach are Ban Xia, Zhu Ru, Zhi Shi, Chen Pi, Fu Ling, Shen Jiang, Gan Cao, and Da Zao.
  3. Heart and Spleen Deficiency: depression symptoms including insomnia, anxiety, and forgetfulness. The patients usually have a weak (Xi) pulse and pale tongues with white coating. The herbs recommended for heart and spleen deficiency are Ren Shen, Huang Qi, Bai Zhu, Gan Cao, Long Yan Rou, Dang Gui, Suan Zao Ren, Fu Shen, Yuan Zhi, Mu Xiang, Sheng Jiang, and Da Zao.
  4. Pericardium Blood Stagnation: depression with signs of chest pain, shortness of breath, and painful menstrual cycles. The patients have slow or halting (Jie) or Xian pulses with purple tongues. The herbs recommended for pericardium blood stagnation are Tao Ren, Hong Hua, Chuan Xiong, Chi Shao, Dang Gui, Di Huang, Chuan Niu Xi, Chai Hu, Jie Geng, Zhi Ke, and Gan Cao.
  5. Stomach Blood Stagnation: depression with symptoms of nausea, vomiting, or even vomiting blood. Patients have a tight (Hian) pulse and purple tongues. The herbs recommended for stomach blood stagnation are Tao Ren, Hong Hua, Chuan Xiong, Chi Shao, Dang Gui, Di Huang, Chuan Niu Xi, Chai Hu, Jie Geng, Zhi Ke, and Gan Cao.

Acupuncture for Depression

Along with TCM herbs, acupuncture is added for whole-body treatment of depression. The World Health Organization has recognized studies showing the benefits of acupuncture lasting as long as twelve months. Acupuncture circulates the Qi and balances the flow of energy. The benefits of acupuncture also include boosting circulation, reducing stress, and restoring better sleep.

As my patient, I will discuss the various forms of depression throughout the body with you and recommend a holistic approach with the appropriate herbs and acupuncture sessions for your symptoms. Treatment for depression doesn’t have to only be antidepressants and talk therapy. There are plenty of whole-body options to get you feeling more like yourself again.

Be well.



This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or illness. Please consult your healthcare provider prior to the use of this product if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medications or have a medical condition. Individual results may vary.