What Causes Depression?

What causes depression? It’s often hard to determine what has “caused” someone’s depression as it’s often a combination of factors and a trigger that finally sets it off. Some areas to look at would be as follows:

Life events – long term difficulties in your personal or work life. Recent events may also trigger depression if you’re already at risk.

Family history – depression can run in families, but it doesn’t mean you will automatically have the same experience. Life events and personal factors are still likely to have a strong influence on this.

Personality – if you have a tendency to worry a lot, are a perfectionist, have low self esteem, are very sensitive to criticism or are self critical and negative

Serious medical illness – the stress and worry of coping with serious illness can lead to depression, especially if dealing with chronic pain too

Drug and alcohol use – can both lead to and result from depression

There are also times in your life when you’re more prone to feeling “depressed” / “anxious” or stressed. This could be when experiencing an imbalance in your hormones or a major life stressor, i.e. – relationship stress / breakup, death of a close family member, hormone imbalance, etc.

Always check with your doctor first to make sure there aren’t any underlying medical issues that you’re unaware of that need Western Medical treatment.

Signs of Depression

Some general signs of depression are as follows:

A loss of ability to feel joy or pleasure – loss of interest in past times that previously gave you joy

Insomnia, trouble getting to sleep, restless or unable to switch off – sleeping too much

Find it difficult to concentrate on previously easy tasks

Feeling hopeless and helpless, as if things will never get better

Cannot control negative thoughts

Loss of appetite or can’t stop eating

Feeling exhausted – even small tasks are exhausting and take longer

Irritable / short tempered – more than usual

Restlessness / on edge / agitated – low tolerance level

Unexplained aches and pains – headaches, aching muscles, stomach pain, back pain

What Makes Austin Therapies Different?

The Traditional Chinese Medicine view point …

If you suffer from depression – chances are you’ve spent much time looking for different ways of managing depression. You may have also gone down the Western Medicine route, which is very important, looking for depression help.  There are a few causes that need to be ruled out using Western Medical diagnostics and scans – in case the cause is serious.

Then you get to the stage when you’re either not getting any relief or taking medication that you’re not keen to stay on … what then?

You go searching for depression relief which comes in all manner of forms. One of which is Traditional Chinese Medicine, using Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Formulas or Reflexology/Massage and Herbal Formulas.

It’s often not ONE thing that will sort out your issues, but a combination of say – lifestyle changes, diet, exercise, mindfulness, taking up yoga, tai chi or meditation. There’s no “little white pill” that will make “everything right” for us. Our own input and effort are required for a good result along with appropriate support for managing depression.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine – we see 16 different “patterns” involving mental / emotional issues. Through these “patterns” of symptoms we can diagnose in a different way – identifying which organs are involved or where there is heat, cold or stagnation lodged in the body. From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective – we diagnose the root cause of the imbalance in your body in order to gain knowledge for depression treatment.

For example:

Ladies going through hormonal issues where depression is “part of their pattern”, but not the only thing that they’re suffering from.

There will be other symptoms going on as well – these could be as follows:

All symptoms are worse with stress or emotional upset

Irregular menstruation, premenstrual syndrome, especially breast tenderness or lumps, premenstrual headaches

Abdominal bloating, alternating bowel habits, abdominal pain, hypochondriac pain

Irritability / depression / mood swings / generally uptight

Generalised muscle tightness, especially neck and upper back

Pale edges on the tongue

Wiry pulse

These symptoms will vary from one person to another, you will have some and others will be absent according to the “organs” involved. Men also have this pattern – minus the gynaecological symptoms. It is one of the most common “patterns” I see in the clinic in both men and women and especially around depression. The predominant organ involved being the LIVER.

Mental / emotional issues is a huge area and the kind of things we look for in diagnosis are:

Constitution – your inherited state of the nervous system from your parents

Diet – the consumption of excess alcohol / drugs and “hot” food will cause excess heat in the body which can lead to “fire” and easily upset the balance in the mind. “Damp” producing foods like take away food can lead to the formation of “phlegm” in the body. When combined with “heat” this may also affect the mind.

Excessive Work – can lead to exhaustion and depression which affects the Kidney energy

Drugs – recreational drugs deeply affect the mind, especially with long term use

Exercise is a big one – when we feel “depressed” we tend to sit around – forcing yourself to get “active” is one of the best “self help” things you can do as this will “move your liver energy”. Depression in Traditional Chinese Medicine is mostly centred around, what we call “liver qi stagnation”. Exercise moves this stagnation and will help you to feel better. If you partake in some form of exercise every day – you’ll start to feel much better – try it!

We also look at the complexion, eyes, pulse and tongue

Each organ relates to a different emotion in Traditional Chinese Medicine:

JOY affects the HEART

WORRY affects the LUNGS and SPLEEN


SHOCK affects the KIDNEYS and HEART

LOVE affecting the HEART

HATRED affects the HEART and LIVER

CRAVING affects the HEART

GUILT affects the KIDNEYS and HEART

Put all this together and you arrive at 16 different patterns and combinations of patterns for emotional issues – all confirmed with a tongue and pulse diagnosis and observing the complexion and skin too.

This, in my opinion is the strength of Traditional Chinese Medicine – we can identify the different patterns going on in the body, which organs are involved, what lifestyle or environmental triggers are affecting the condition. We then treat the manifestation first (pain) – depression in this case – and the root cause of the emotional issue second, to gain depression relief.

I hope that all makes sense and I haven’t got too “involved” and confused you!

I’d love to have the opportunity to give you more information and discuss treatment for your specific condition or answer any burning questions that you may have.

Please call Sally on 0421 411 508 or visit our website at www.austintherapies.com.au or Face Book page at “Austin Therapies – The London Road Natural Health Clinic” – Belmont, Brisbane.


The Practice of Chinese Medicine – the treatment of diseases with acupuncture and Chinese herbs – Giovanni Maciocia (1998)

The Acupuncture Evidence Project – by John McDonald & Stephen Janz (2017)

Beyond Blue Support Services

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89. Spackman E, Richmond S, Sculpher M, Bland M, Brealey S, Gabe R, et al. Cost-effectiveness analysis of acupuncture, counselling and usual care in treating patients with depression: the results of the ACUDep trial. PLOS ONE. 2014;9(11):e113726.