How does Chinese medicine help with depression?

By Dr Yun Shen

Do you recently feel irritable, unhappy, easy to cry, always tired, frustrated and sad, even sometimes without any apparent reasons can be moody and disappointed, you may suffer “depression”.

What is depression? Actually “depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person’s thoughts, behaviour, feelings and sense of well-being.” 1



Depression is not just a simple upset or low mood, it’s a serious conditions which can impact your physical and mental health. Under the depression, you may get feeling of failure, fault and guilty; feel tired all the time, disappointed, mood swing and helpless. Meanwhile, can get sleep problems, poor appetite or too strong appetite, digestive problems, weight loss or weight gain problems. Depression also closely related with pain, especially chronic pain, for example, headaches, back aches or muscle pain.  Current research indicated that “pain is depressing and depression causes and intensifies pain”2.

From Chinese Medicine perspective, depression can be recognised as “Yu Syndrome”, and treats Yu syndrome based on “identification of different patterns”. In order to identify the patterns, we need to collect the information from consultation, get the idea from inspection of whole body and facial complexion, listening and inquiring, also check the tongue and pulse palpation so that can identify the causes of the health condition, the pathogenic factors contribute to the problems also allocated the channels or organs involved in.  At the same time, Chinese medicine practitioner also need to consider different person’s constitution to get the better individual treatment.

Chinese medicine believes that Yu Syndrome mainly caused by qi and blood stagnation; phlegm, dampness accumulation; and liver, heart and spleen functional disorders can lead to Yu syndrome. From Chinese medicine point of view, the heart houses the mind, smooth flow of liver qi in relation to the emotional state, and the spleen houses the intellect, responsible for thinking, studying and concentrating; if these organs didn’t work properly, depression-Yu syndrome would happen.

As a holistic natural health medicine system, Chinese medicine treat Yu syndrome (depression) combined with whole body balance aspect and individual care. Acupuncture, ear acupuncture, and chinse herbal medicine are really good for depression. For example, the patent herbal pills “Chai Hu Shu Gan San” and “Xiao Yan San” have been indicated the good effect to help depression symptoms.

Meanwhile, for better help with depression care, we also can do:

*** Be patient during the treatment plan, depression normally is chronic condition, and need a series treatment sessions

*** Behaviour therapy is helpful, for example, regular exercise, more social life, listening music and quit smoking and drinking alcohols

*** Dietary supplement, for example, try the more coarse food grain in the diet, the food rich with Vitamin B

*** Chinese Herbal teas; such as Dried rose flower (Mei Gui Hua) and Silktree Flower (He Huan Hua) tea can help to regulate qi flow and stagnation, can be benefit for depression symptoms.


  1. “ Depression (mood)”,
  2. “Depression and pain”,


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