Author: Monica Costa-Moreno, A.P.
When one hears about anxiety and depression, one is led to believe that they are separate illnesses or problems, and that they are a “women only” issue.
I would like to make certain clarifications about these two, and try to explain them from an acupuncturist and homeopath's point of view.
Anxiety and depression are the same feelings on opposite ends of the wellness scale. Looking at them from an Oriental Medicine perspective, anxiety is Yang and depression is Yin. When one is feeling anxious, one is normally restless, moving, with racing thoughts, palpitation, shallow breathing and perhaps perspiration. In Oriental Medicine 5 Element Theory, I would address the Fire and Metal elements. On the other hand, depression normally comes with bouts of down or heavy feelings. One does not feel much like moving around, but rather wants stillness, quiet and inactivity, usually feeling cold, and wanting to “curl up”. In this case, I would address perhaps the Water and Earth elements.
The channels or meridians associated with anxiety, in most cases, are the Heart/Fire element (palpitations, heat, hypertension pressure, costochondritis, agitation), and Lung/Metal element (shortness of breath, upper respiratory and skin allergies, itching).
The ones for depression are Kidney/Water (pain along the spine, especially low back, joint pain, heaviness in the legs, water retention, edema), and Spleen-Pancreas/Earth (digestive disorders, fatigue, exhaustion, changes in stool, bleeding, muscles aches).
An additional element, Wood, associated with the liver meridian, can go both ways, and the symptoms may vary from menstrual irregularities to bloating and changes in digestion.
As you can see, anxiety and depression can affect your body in many different ways and cause problems to most of your vital organs.
I guide my patients in understanding that when one is depressed, one lives in the past and vice versa; when one feels anxious, it is because one lives in the future. You see, depression is our longing for things in the past that are gone, and we cannot let go. Anxiety is our fear of the things of the future, which we cannot control.
When we come to understand that wellness is a balanced state somewhere in the middle of the scale, where we can feel some temporary sadness and some temporary concern without becoming overwhelmed by either, then we can manage our feelings much better and not fall into either extreme.
The way conventional medicine treats depression is with anti-depressives, and anxiety with benzodiazepines. It is ironic that the side effects for anti-depressives are more depression, and in extreme cases, suicide, and the side effects for benzodiazepines are more anxiety, and in extreme cases, panic attacks.
So what do we do to help ourselves naturally? First understand what is going on. Make an appointment to see your acupuncturist, herbalist or homeopathic physician, and be open and honest in communicating your feelings. This will help the physician pin point the problem and help you.
You may be provided with home therapies such as meditation, breathing, guided imagery, visualization and several other relaxation techniques. These are all very effective if properly practiced. You may also be prescribed herbs such as chamomile, passiflora and lavender for anxiety, and St. John's wort, ashwagandha, and gingko biloba for depression. You may also be prescribed some of these herbs in a homeopathic form, such as the case of hypericum (St. John's wort), which is excellent for anxiety, and natrum muriatricum for chronic depression.
Vitamin B-12 has also been found to have a positive effect on mood, preferably sub-lingual to receive the fastest and best effect. Supplements such as gabba, and L-tryptophan have also been found to help stabilize mood disorders.
Remember that mood disorders can become like bad best friends, and it is up to each of us to break that friendship. We can also admit that we cannot change the past, but instead come to terms with it, and that we cannot know what the future brings, but instead live today wisely. With help from your natural physician, herbs and homeopathic remedies, you can overcome anxiety and depression, and thus, the damage they cause to your system and your overall being.