Acupuncture for Depression - Treatment Protocols

General Approaches

Acupuncture For Depression - Treatment Protocols

Acupuncture treatment protocols are generally directed towards the deeper root of a persons set of health issues, not at each individual issue. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, treatment is generally directed towards the individuals diagnostic pattern(s) and their primary issue is only a part of the information required to approach the correct patterns to treat (see "treating the cause vs. the symptoms" for an introduction to this process.).

In designing an acupuncture protocol for depression, one might find one or a combination of the following patterns: heart qi deficiency, kidney qi deficiency, liver qi stagnation, phlegm misting the heart, spleen and stomach damp heat, spleen qi deficiency among many other possibilities and possible combinations.

Below you will find some of the more common tcm diagnoses and acupuncture treatment protocols for depression. There are many ways to approach the treatment of this condition within TCM. Our presentation describes foundational approaches that would need to be further tailored in most cases to be effective for a given individual.

  • Differentiation:
  • LV Qi Stagnation - Excess
    • Signs & Symptoms:
      • Depression with irritability, plum pit qi, chest oppression, PMS.
      • Tongue: Pale or purple w/thin white coat
      • Pulse: Wiry
    • Treatment Points:
      • St. John Treatment Points (with modifications):
      • LV 3 - harmonize LV
      • LI 4 - four gates w/LV 3 above
      • ST 36 - tonify Qi
      • HT 7 - calm spirit
      • GV 20 - clear the mind
  • Phlegm Qi Depression - Excess
    • Signs & Symptoms:
      • Similar to below but arising from LV Qi Stagnation effecting fluid metabolism, depression, chest oppression and other phlegm signs.
      • Tongue: Greasy white coat
      • Pulse: Slippery, wiry
    • Treatment Points:
  • Retention of Phlegm-Damp
    • Signs & Symptoms:
      • Similar to above but arising from SP Qi deficiency, chest oppression, lack of appetite, lack of thirst, fatigue, heaviness of the body.
      • Tongue: Greasy white coat
      • Pulse: Slippery
    • Treatment Points:
  • HT & SP Deficiency
    • Signs & Symptoms:
      • Excessive worrying and thinking, poor concentration, palpitations, insomnia, pale lustreless complexion, poor appetite, fatigue.
      • Tongue: Pale
      • Pulse: Thin, weak
    • Treatment Points:
  • SP & KD Deficiency
    • Signs & Symptoms:
      • Fatigue, sore back and knees, low libido, insomnia, anxiety, cold extremities.
      • Tongue: Pale, swollen
      • Pulse: Deep, fine
    • Treatment Points:

The information on our site is drawn from our own lecture notes and clinical experience. The following lecture notes were consulted within this section:

  • St. John, Meredith: New England School of Acupuncture, Etiology and Pathology Lecture Notes
  • Valaskatgis, Peter: New England School of Acupuncture, Etiology and Pathology Lecture Notes

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