Depressing thoughts according to Chinese Medicine

depression, melancholy, sadness redirect here

Depressing thoughts can be the consequence of several so-called “patterns of disharmony” in Chinese Medicine.

Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted, leading to symptoms or signs that something is wrong (like depressing thoughts here). It is similar to the concept of disease in Western Medicine but not quite: a Western disease can often be explained by several Chinese patterns and vice-versa.

A pattern often manifests itself in a combination of symptoms that, at first glance, do not seem necessarily related to each others. For instance here depressing thoughts is often associated with dizziness, scanty periods and palpitations in the pattern “/tcm-education-center/patterns/blood-deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause depressing thoughts.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of depressing thoughts we’ve identified five herbal formulas that may help treat patterns behind the symptom.

We’ve also selected below the five medicinal herbs that we think are most likely to help treat depressing thoughts.

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause depressing thoughts

In Chinese Medicine depressing thoughts is a symptom for 5 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang) is the king ingredient for Si Wu Tang, a formula used for /tcm-education-center/patterns/blood-deficiency

Blood Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Fine (Xi)

Tongue color: Pale

Someone has a Deficiency of Blood when their entire body, a part of body or a particular Organ is insufficiently nourished by Blood. This can be caused by blood-loss, a lack of of Spleen Qi (responsible to produce Blood) or congealed Blood which prevents new Blood from forming.

In addition to depressing thoughts, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/blood-deficiency include dizziness, scanty periods and palpitations.

From a Western Medicine standpoint /tcm-education-center/patterns/blood-deficiency is associated with health issues such as Late Menstruation or Scanty Menstruation.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/blood-deficiency is often treated with Si Wu Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Si Wu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify blood", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Restores and nourishes Blood".

Read more about Blood Deficiency here

Bupleurum Roots (Chai Hu) is the king ingredient for Xiao Yao San, a formula used for /tcm-education-center/patterns/qi-stagnation

Qi Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Tight (Jin), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Red sides

Qi Stagnation refers to Qi becoming stuck or stagnant, a bit like a traffic jam on the freeway. This restricted flow of Qi can be body-wide or happen in any specific Organ.

In addition to depressing thoughts, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/qi-stagnation include scanty periods, poor appetite and irritability.

From a Western Medicine standpoint /tcm-education-center/patterns/qi-stagnation is associated with health issues such as Late Menstruation.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/qi-stagnation is often treated with Xiao Yao San, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Bupleurum Roots - Chai Hu - as a key herb). Xiao Yao San belongs to the category of "formulas that harmonize liver-spleen", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Harmonizes the function of Liver and Spleen".

Read more about Qi Stagnation here

Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia) is the king ingredient for Er Chen Tang, a formula used for /tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm

Phlegm

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Thick coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

The concept of Phlegm is much wider and important in Chinese Medicine than in the West. Broadly speaking, Phlegm is a substance produced when the body fails to handle Body Fluids properly.

In addition to depressing thoughts, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm include dizziness, poor appetite and irritability.

From a Western Medicine standpoint /tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm is associated with health issues such as Low Breast Milk Supply, Menopausal Syndrome or Morning Sickness.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm is often treated with Er Chen Tang, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Crow-Dipper Rhizomes - Ban Xia - as a key herb). Er Chen Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that dry dampness and transform phlegm", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Dries Damp and dispels Phlegm".

Read more about Phlegm here

The Liver is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Liver in Chinese Medicine

Liver Blood Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Fine (Xi)

Tongue color: Pale

The Liver stores Blood, that is the reason any Blood Deficiency often involves the Liver. This pattern has an impact on areas the Liver relates to, such as the tendons, eyes, nails and menstruation. It arises from the same causes of general Blood Deficiency, such as poor diet, hemorrhages or Kidney Qi or Essence Deficiency.

In addition to depressing thoughts, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-blood-deficiency include dizziness, scanty periods and insomnia.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-blood-deficiency is often treated with Si Wu Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Si Wu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify blood", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Restores and nourishes Blood".

Read more about Liver Blood Deficiency here

The Spleen is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Spleen in Chinese Medicine

Spleen Qi Sinking

Pulse type(s): Weak (Ruo)

Tongue color: Pale

The causes and symptoms of Spleen Qi Sinking is quite similar to the ones of Spleen Qi Deficiency. It happens more to people who have unhealthy diet and eating habits, emotional stress, damp living environment or these have to stand up long hours.

In addition to depressing thoughts, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/spleen-qi-sinking include poor appetite, tiredness and loose stools.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/spleen-qi-sinking is often treated with Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Milkvetch Roots - Huang Qi - as a key herb). Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify qi", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies Qi of the Spleen and Stomach (Middle Burner)".

Read more about Spleen Qi Sinking here

Five herbal formulas that might help with depressing thoughts

Gui Pi Tang

Source date: 1529 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies and nourish Qi and Blood. Tonifies Heart and Spleen.

Why might Gui Pi Tang help with depressing thoughts?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/blood-deficiency' of which depression is a symptom.

Read more about Gui Pi Tang here

Chai Hu Shu Gan San

Source date: 1602

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Disperses Stagnant Liver Qi and Blood. Alleviates pain. Harmonizes Blood.

Why might Chai Hu Shu Gan San help with depressing thoughts?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/qi-stagnation' of which depression is a symptom.

Read more about Chai Hu Shu Gan San here

Wen Dan Tang

Source date: 1174 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Clears Phlegm. Clears Gallbladder. Regulates Qi. Harmonizes the Stomach.

Why might Wen Dan Tang help with depressing thoughts?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm' of which depression is a symptom.

Read more about Wen Dan Tang here

Si Wu Tang

Source date: 846 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Restores and nourishes Blood. Stimulates Blood circulation.

Why might Si Wu Tang help with depressing thoughts?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-blood-deficiency' of which depression is a symptom.

Read more about Si Wu Tang here

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang

Source date: 1247

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi of the Spleen and Stomach (Middle Burner). Raises the Yang. Detoxifies. Lifts what has sunken.

Why might Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang help with depressing thoughts?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/spleen-qi-sinking' of which depression is a symptom.

Read more about Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang here

Acupuncture points used for depressing thoughts

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat depressing thoughts

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with depressing thoughts?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat depressing thoughts as a symptom, like Gui Pi Tang or Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang for instance.

Liquorice is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Lung, the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Basal Qi and nourishes the Spleen Qi. Clears Heat and dispels toxicity. Moistens the Lungsexpel phlegm and stop coughing. Relieves spasms and alleviates pain. Harmonizes and moderates the effects of other herbs.

Read more about Liquorice here

Why might Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with depressing thoughts?

Because Atractylodes Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat depressing thoughts as a symptom, like Yue Ju Wan or Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang for instance.

Atractylodes Rhizomes is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Spleen Qi. Fortifies the Spleen Yang and dispels Damp through urination. Tonifies Qi and stops sweating. Calms restless fetus when due to Deficiency of Spleen Qi.

Read more about Atractylodes Rhizomes here

Why might Ginseng (Ren Shen) help with depressing thoughts?

Because Ginseng is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat depressing thoughts as a symptom, like Du Shen Tang or Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang for instance.

Ginseng is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Lung and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Very strongly tonifies the Qi. Tonifies the Lungs and Spleen. Assists the body in the secretion of Fluids and stops thirst. Strengthens the Heart and calms the Shen (mind/spirit).

Read more about Ginseng here

Why might Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with depressing thoughts?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat depressing thoughts as a symptom, like Xiao Yao San or Jia Wei Xiao Yao San for instance.

Dong Quai is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Liver and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Lubricates the Intestines. Relieve constipation. Promotes circulation and dispels Bi Pain. Reduce Dysmenorrhea and help with irregular menstruation.

Read more about Dong Quai here

Why might Cape Jasmine Fruit (Zhi Zi) help with depressing thoughts?

Because Cape Jasmine Fruit is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat depressing thoughts as a symptom, like Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San or Yue Ju Wan for instance.

Cape Jasmine Fruits is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Gallbladder, the Heart, the Lung and the Sanjiao.

Its main actions are: Clears Heat and calms spirit. Drains Damp-Heat affecting the Liver and Gallbladder. Clears Heat in the Blood and stops bleeding. Anti-inflammatory.

Read more about Cape Jasmine Fruits here