Pressing Down

In the late fifties attending the Miami Country Day School or Boys in Miami Shores, I woke up one morning in my dormitory with a fever and the classical symptoms of measles the three Cs—cough, coryza (runny nose) and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Of course those were the days, before the MMS vaccine when children were still allowed to get measles. I duly reported to the infirmary to sweat out my fever that would last at least three days.

Five days later, I was still in the infirmary. My bout with the virus had been uncomplicated, yet the physician who came in every afternoon hearing I was still sleeping most of the day, would not order my discharge from the school infirmary. The doctor made sure I had not had diarrhea checked me carefully with his stethoscope for pneumonia. He knew complications are usually more severe amongst adults who catch the virus and that the fatality rate from measles in children or for otherwise healthy people in developed countries is low. Why was I still lethargic?

Asking some questions about my home back in Aruba, I heard the good doctor, on his way out of the infirmary arguing with the school nurse. Several minutes later with much complaining the nurse brought me a cup of coffee laden with milk and sugar. Even though she had been told that coffee and milk was usual breakfast beverage for Hispanic children; this matron was devoutly against giving coffee to children. Astutely aware of cultural differences among Hispanics, even before the Cuban exodus to Miami, the school doctor had chosen correctly a food that would pull me out of my funk. Within an hour I was wide awake a clamoring to be able to join my schoolmates.

What the insightful school doctor had realized is that I was clinically depressed. Our word depression comes from the Latin word “deprimere” which means to “press down”. Perhaps this comes from the realization that people can feel that life is pressing them down. Many people identify the feeling of being depressed as “being blue”, “feeling sad for no reason”, or “having no motivation to do anything”. Indeed, many symptoms of depression include feeling sad or blue, anxiety or irritability, or feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt. When a person has thoughts of death or suicide they usually can figure out that something is not right with them.

In our clinic, I diagnose patients as suffering from a stagnation of Liver chi. This indicates that the energy within the body is not flowing smoothly and results in the symptoms of depression even when patients themselves do not recognize this. As a result of Liver Chi Stagnation, the Heart, Spleen a/or Kidney systems may also be affected.

Symptoms may include significant weight loss or weight gain, explained by Tradition Chinese Medical physicians as weaknesses in the Spleen, short-term, it may lead to problems with fatigue and digestion. Long-term problems related to mucus, which could affect the mind in ways such as muddling the thinking. Longer-term weaknesses in the Spleen may also begin to affect the quality of blood in the body, which can strongly influence the heart system, causing symptoms such as insomnia and/or restlessness. Insomnia or excessive sleeping, are additional symptoms of depression.

Fatigue or loss of energy can reflect an imbalance in the Kidney energy. If left untreated, the Kidneys inability to nourish Liver energy produces a definite loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities. People who have lost their interest and pleasure in sex usually excuse their position as being “too tired”. The Kidneys, being strongly related to the foundations of Yin and Yang, the combined forms of energy in your body, are also likely to play a role in the ability to climax and vaginal lubrication

Some of the common lifestyle habits which may contribute to this are: lack of exercise, poor dietary habits – especially fried foods and foods not meant for our metabolic type, alcohol and other drugs, including some prescription medications and repressed or overly expressed emotions, especially anger or grief. People who realize they are in a funk are better prepared to help themselves. Clinical depression, where physical symptoms of depression are present can be more serious than normal depressed feelings because it often leads to chronic negative thinking and substance abuse.

Regardless of the cause, standard medical treatment for both acknowledged and clinical depression is antidepressant medication, which unfortunately, has risks. Already, in 2005, the US Food and Drug Administration issued a warning of possible increased suicide risk in adults taking antidepressants and an increased suicide risk in children. With such overwhelming evidence against the prescription of the newer antidepressants, why are such drugs still the primary medically accepted option?

There are other ways to treat depression, including acupuncture treatments, counseling and natural herbal treatments. An important caution is that no food based supplement that is effective in treating depression should be taken together with antidepressant medication, since they could compound the negative side effects. This is especially relevant with St. John’s wort.

In our clinic we use a combination of diet and acupuncture to rebalance the energy of your body and to support you as you transition off antidepressant medication. Once the metabolites or chemical traces of antidepressant medication are out of your body we recommend SAMe, s-adenosylmethionine, and 5 –HTP, 5-Hydroxytryptophan. SAMe is a substance that occurs naturally in the body and that can be taken as a supplement. 5-HTP is a naturally-occurring amino acid. Studies have demonstrated that neither of these substances have the side effects of antidepressant medication and both are effective as natural antidepressants, appetite suppressants, and sleep aids.

Get The Point! Often, individuals who live in modern society become stressed beyond the natural bounds of a healthy physiology. Regardless of the origin of the stress, or if we consciously recognize that we are depressed the effects may very well be the same. Aggressive antidepressant medication advertisement promises to get you out of your funk by taking their little pill. However, the small print paints a more dangerous picture. For a safer alternative for your symptoms, call for an appointment.

CARLOS VIANA, Ph. D. is an Oriental Medical Doctor (O.M.D.) having studied in Shanghai, China; a Board Cert. Clinical Nutritionist (C.C.N.), a fellow member of the Board Certified Association of Addiction Professionals (C.Ad.), the Chairperson of the Latin American Committee of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT), a Rejuvenating Cell Therapist and specializes in Anti-Aging Medicine, has a weekly radio program, writes and lectures extensively. For information: VIANA NATURAL HEALING CENTER NV, Kibaima 7, Aruba, TEL: 585-1270, Web Site:

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