Emilie Salomons R.TCMP, ADS, Doula
Depression has affected people for thousands of years, but with today’s pace and increasing demands at work, school and home, this treatable disease is being diagnosed more and more frequently in western medicine. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers another view and approach to managing stress and depression. Aside from the staples of current treatments like counseling, group support – whether friends, family, or peers – and medication if clinically necessary, TCM offers an additional set of diagnostic and treatment methodologies and a new way of looking at what is going on inside our complicated bodies and minds.
Traditional Chinese Medicine looks at the body, mind and spirit as one interconnected being. An imbalance in one organ can manifest or present itself through a change in mood, just as a strain to the emotions can affect the function of our vital organs. It might be helpful to think of the “butterflies” that flurry in your stomach and the sudden loss of appetite you feel when something makes you nervous.
So if everything is connected, what can we do to help lift our mood and ease our tension?
To best understand how depression is affecting your body, a consultation with a TCM practitioner is necessary. However, on a basic level, imbalances of the heart and the liver can usually correlate with changes in emotional stability and sleep. Attention to both Movement and Diet can help regulate these organs and result in positive changes for both body and mind. A quick guide follows:
Movement: Watch your energy levels as not to push yourself too hard at the start, but begin doing an exercise you enjoy to get yourself moving. Try going for walks outdoors, think green, test out a yoga class or group activity, or learn to dance with a close friend. Not only will being outdoors or in good company help lift your mood, the movement itself will clear stagnated energy and emotions. Once things start flowing more smoothly in your body, you will notice the same fluidity and ease in your thoughts and emotions.
Diet: Another tool for helping you lift your spirit is food. While even the best of us can resort to binge eating to remedy discomfort or unhappiness, I encourage patients to steer themselves to foods that energetically move the body’s energy. As we enter spring, a few liver-cleansing, emotion-soothing foods which can be added to the regular diet include brown rice, dark green leafy vegetables like kale and chard, blue-green micro algae, parsley, mint, basil, fennel and apple cider vinegar. You can also try drinking a light spring tea made of fresh steeped mint leaves and honey.
These are only a few suggestions on a very broad topic, if you have any questions please post them below.