The concept of the mind body connection has always been an integral part of Chinese Medicine thought. In all classical literature on Chinese medicine, mental activity has always been considered to be inseparable from bodily functions.
The Chinese term used for depression “yuzheng” refers to stagnation of qi on both a physical and mental plane. When we think of stagnation in a more western sense we can compare it to feeling stuck in life, unmotivated and low energy, common complaints of depression.
Its common for people who feel mentally stuck to have some accompanying physical symptoms. In mild stages of depression, qi stagnation may manifest as discomfort on the sides of the body, pain around the ribs or the sensation of a lump in the throat.
The main concept of health and vitality in Chinese Medicine is linked to the presence of smooth flowing qi (energy). Since depression is the manifestation of obstructed or stuck qi flow it should be addressed to not only improve the current symptoms but also to prevent further more serious diseases from developing.
The 15th century physician Zhu Danxie created the influential statement: “If qi and blood exist in abundance and harmony, a person will not get sick. Once there is depression, all kinds of diseases will start to evolve. Therefore, all of the body’s diseases are caused by depression”.
Acupuncture has been widely used as a treatment for depression. The main concept of classical acupuncture is to move qi throughout the body. Acupuncture treatments can help improve the mental feeling of “stuckness” as well as relieve the physical symptoms that may accompany it.
Research supports acupuncture’s effectiveness in the field of mental health and Acupuncture can be considered as a alternative or adjunct to those suffering mental health conditions that are non-responsive to pharmacological agents or to those that suffer side effects from the the medications. Increasing evidence demonstrates that acupuncture may be beneficial for treating depression via modulation of the central monoaminergic system, the hypothalmic–pituitary–adrenal axis, brain neurotrophin, and the neuroimmune system. (Muthmainah, Nurwati I. Acupuncture for Depression: The Mechanism Underlying Its Therapeutic Effect. )