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Depression & The Five Elements

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Post time 18-12-2013 12:56 PM | Show all posts |Read mode
At the turn of the century, health care seems to have come light years from the days of leeches, country-side doctors and a lack of remedies for ailments such as polio, rubella and the German measles. Yet, the world of medicine finds itself in an enormous quagmire because mere survival in the fast-paced modern world requires a step back into the shadows of time where the magical healing powers of nature and traditional medicine reside.



One of the predominant manifestations of present day life lies in the emotional/psychological realm resulting in depressions, anxieties, and all sorts of other related dilemmas. The focus of this article, however, will implement the theories and principles of Traditional Chinese medicine in diagnosing, differentiating and treating depression in accordance with the five elements.

In order to gain clear insight into the many multi-faceted aspects of depression, it is crucial to look at it from every perspective. Therefore. it is vital to glimpse into the world of western medicine to provide one model regarding the complexity of the human mind. and its functioning.

According to many western medical resources. depression may be the response of the body to an overwhelming and constant stress that seems to the patient to be insurmountable. This stress could be life experiences, food or nutritional deficiencies or excesses, allergies to environmental factors, and numerous other so-called stressors. Regardless of the etiology of the depression, the majority of western MDs diagnose the patient’s condition as a depression. The symptomology must be rather significant. Among symptoms falling into the category of a depressive illness, there must be at least five of the following symptoms for a period of at least two weeks. These symptoms are:

  • Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day
  • Markedly diminished interest in pleasure in almost all activities most of the day, every day
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain without dieting, or major changes in appetite or eating habits
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly everyday
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation (anxiety or lack of desire to do any thing)
  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, desperation, and psychic pain that are ongoing
  • Inability to think or concentrate; indecisiveness daily
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, or a specific plan or attempt of suicide


The symptoms cause significant distress or impair social, occupational, or other important functions. In sever cases, hallucinations and delusions may occur, perhaps as a result of the emotional overload. In any case, once the diagnosis has been made, the treatment method is generally very similar from patient to patient. Usually, anti-depressive medications, of which there are many, are administered, and often it takes up to six weeks for the medications to take effect.

In many cases, these medications are a saving grace, but in the case of the suicidal depressive, extra measures must be taken to assure that the patient maintains his or her integrity. The general consensus in the western model is that these treatments be accompanied by psychological counseling in order to rebalance and rebuild the person’s inner world. Currently, there is a great deal of research and medical attention regarding depressive illnesses. and a significant branch of western MDs are turning to megavitamin therapies. aminoacid. and nutritional therapies as alternatives to drugs. In the not-so-distant future, it seems the trend is coming back home… to nature and its innate wisdom.

Chinese medicine is perhaps one of the foremost therapeutic avenues that invites nature to assist in the rebalancing of the human organism. Since humankind functions on so many levels, from spiritual, to physical, to emotional, each of these strata need be addressed. The somewhat magical art of Traditional Chinese Medicine works beautifully at uniting body-mind-spirit, so that harmony may again be achieved. This is not to say that TCM is a wonder cure because in some in some cases, it may even be ineffective. in which case there are other options and modalities of treatment, from western medicine to Indian or homeopathic medicine. The point is: other options exist, and should not be ruled out.

In TCM alone, there are many approaches to the same problem. The scope of this article is on the five elements and their significance in diagnosing and treating depression. Each element encompasses a symptomological picture that varies from the others. Becoming aware that a patient is depressed does not suffice. It is important to understand and address the individual and unique manifestations of that person’s depression. The five elements provide a clear and interesting framework in which many cases of depressive illness can fit, be diagnosed and treated. For the sake of clarity, this article will present each element and its unique manifestations, without addressing the interactions of the elements. Although elemental interdependence is fundamental to the five element theory, it is the goal of this article to highlight the differences among the elements in order to present a clear theoretical model. It should be understood that cases of purely Wood-element depression, for example. would be rare. Usually there is a combination of elements in the same person, which will hopefully become more decipherable through deeper understanding of each element.

* For more information on the five elements theory of depression, read the full article at TCM Wellness Services

Last edited by bobkee on 18-12-2013 12:56 PM

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