Friday, November 20, 2009

Case Study - Depression


A 14 year old boy comes with his mother to my office. His mother is concerned because her son has been depressed for 3 months. They visited her family before his depression became noticeable. Sometime after returning home, she found her son crying. He started seeing a psychologist which helped until he took Sudafed™ to relieve cold symptoms.1 The depression became worse than before.

During the family visit, the boy was to undergo a fat-reduction procedure on his chest. He and his mother were going to stay with her family while he recovered. While there, he witnessed a family fight. The result of the fight was his mother had to find friends to stay with at once.
Another stressor for the boy is he just moved to a new, bigger school after going to the same school for 8 years.

The boy complained of daily headaches centered at the occipital area. He was fatigued and would vomit clear fluids every morning since the surgery. For the past year, he has been getting shots for his allergies which reduced his asthma. He also has a tendency to develop sore throats.
He was quiet and his mother did most of the talking for him.

His tongue was red, no coating, and his pulse was rapid and superficial. Palpation of his neck, shoulders and chest reveal tenderness and spasm of his muscles.

DIAGNOSIS: Wind Heat Attacking The Lung/Sinus

His Lung function was already compromised, as evidenced by his asthma, allergies, and sore throat. This was compounded by the sense of loss created by the situation with his mother’s family and leaving his old school. Any unresolved or suppressed anger will also turn into sadness and reduce immune (TCM: Lung) function.

His headaches resulted from sinus inflammation. Autumn weather is dry and increases mucus membrane sensitivity resulting in increased mucus secretion. Post nasal drip during the night caused the vomiting in the morning. Allergies (inflammation of the mucus membranes) overwork the immune system leaving him tired and unable to deal with his emotions.

The surgery created more inflammation in the muscles of the chest. The physical and emotional stressors manifest as a heavy sensation and constriction of his chest. Crying is the natural release.


Treatment included acupuncture, soft tissue manipulation and Chinese herbs.

I needled his chest (R17) and he felt immediate relief. I also massaged his neck, face, scalp, upper back and his arms and hands along the Lung and Large Intestine meridians. This reduced the inflammation, improved lymph flow/drainage and relaxed the chest, neck and back. While treating, I emphasized deep breathing. Even breathing helps him to let go of the emotions he is holding. Deep breathing creates an “internal massage” allowing the intercostals (rib muscles) to fully relax. This improves lung function.

I demonstrated how he can improve his own Lung function with Qi Gong tapping along his Lung and Large Intestine meridians. I instructed him to do this every day; it would enhance his immune system. I am empowering him to take part in his healing and learn to deal with his emotions instead of holding them in.

I also prescribed an herbal formula to alleviate his allergies and reduce the post nasal drip.

He came back a week later and said he is not vomiting since the visit. He feels less depressed and his chest and upper back are less sore. He didn’t have any headaches this week.

He manages to take the herbal formula only once a day instead of the recommended three times daily.


My objective is to give the boy tools to deal with his depression and any other health issues.
Two percent of preteens and 5% of adolescents suffer from depression.2
The first step is to make him aware of his physical sensations and how he can change them. I encouraged him to use breathing and Qi Gong tapping to create more space in his chest to change his physical and emotional patterns.

Wellness is an active commitment to live a fulfilled life. I am happy I could initiate the healing process for him.

1 In TCM sadness resides in the lungs (each emotion manifests in different areas of the body). He needed to strengthen his lungs to relieve his symptoms instead of using Sudafed which suppresses his natural lung function.

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