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How to Use Physical Exercise and Acupressure to Address Chronic Depression
Posted by Dr. Ben Kim on Jul 25, 2007
Don't Overlook the Importance of Being Physically Active
If you do a search through the archive of published studies at the National Library of Medicine, you'll find numerous studies that indicate that getting regular physical exercise is more effective than taking medication when looking to address chronic depression.
The best type of exercise for addressing depression appears to be aerobic exercise, where you increase your heart and breathing rates for 20 or more minutes at a time. Breaking a sweat is a good indication of having exercised enough to positively affect your mood-regulating hormones.
I encourage you to find a sport or form of exercise that you can have a lot of fun with. Try a variety of activities like tennis, baseball, soccer, ping pong, basketball, and volleyball, and don't give up until you find at least one sport that you really like. Once you find your sport, it should be a cinch to exercise regularly.
Acupressure Points for Addressing Chronic Depression
Upon receiving approval from your primary health care provider, consider applying manual pressure to the following acupuncture points that I have found to be especially effective for people suffering with chronic depression:
- Kidney 27 (KI-27)
KI-27 is located just off the edge of the top of your sternum, in the slight indentation that exists between the lower border of your collarbone and your first rib. A diagram that shows how to apply pressure to KI-27 can be found on page 79 of Acupressure's Potent Points: a Guide to Self-Care for Common Ailments, a book that I highly recommend for people interested in optimal self health care.
For those with knowledge of human anatomy: application of pressure to KI-27 results in stimulation of branches of the facial nerve, first intercostal nerve, medial supraclavicular nerves, lateral and medial pectoral nerves, and the subclavian nerve. Branches of the internal thoracic artery and tributaries of the internal thoracic vein are also in the vicinity of KI-27.
- Lung 1 (LU-1)
LU-1 is located in the upper and outer corner of your chest, about four finger widths up from the front of your armpit crease and about one finger width inward from your armpit crease. A diagram that shows how to apply pressure to LU-1 can be found on page 79 of Acupressure's Potent Points
For those with knowledge of human anatomy: application of pressure to LU-1 results in stimulation of branches of the first intercostal nerve and supraclavicular nerves, medial and lateral pectoral nerves, cephalic vein, branches of the thoracoacromial artery, the axillary artery, and companion veins.
- Gall Bladder 20 (GB-20):
GB-20 is located behind your head, in the first major depression that you can feel below the base of your skull, about two finger widths away from the midline of your neck. A diagram that shows how to apply pressure to GB-20 can be found on page 62 of Acupressure's Potent Points
For those with knowledge of human anatomy: This point is at the junction of the occipital and nuchal regions, in a depression that lies between the origins of the sternocleidomastoid and trapezius muscles. It is approximately at the level of the lower margin of the external occipital protuberance.
Application of pressure to GB-20 results in stimulation of the greater occipital nerve, the lesser occipital nerve, the suboccipital nerve (C1), and motor fibers from dorsal rami of upper cervical nerves. Branches of the occipital artery and companion vein are also in the vicinity.
- Conception Vessel 17 (CV-17)
CV-17 is located in the center of your sternum, about three finger widths up from the bottom edge of your sternum. A diagram that shows how to apply pressure to CV-17 can be found on page 80 of Acupressure's Potent Points, although I generally recommend applying pressure to CV-17 while you are lying down as opposed to sitting, as the lady is in the referenced diagram.
For those with knowledge of human anatomy: Application of pressure to CV-17 results in stimulation of branches of the fourth intercostal nerve, perforating branches of the internal thoracic artery, and perforating tributaries of the internal thoracic vein.
Once you have received permission from your primary care provider, you can use your fingers and/or thumbs to massage the points listed above on one or both sides of your body for a few minutes, up to two times a day. For optimal results, massage these points on both sides of your body during each session.
When you correctly locate these points, you should feel some tenderness when you apply pressure to them. Apply enough pressure/massage to create a mild, dull, and possibly achy sensation.
Please note: you should never receive acupressure or acupuncture treatments while pregnant. Certain points, including SP-6 can cause uterine contractions. In fact, massaging SP-6 is a natural method of inducing labor when desired.
Also, acupressure should never be applied to legs that have varicose veins. Applying pressure or massage to varicose veins can potentially lead to a pulmonary embolism.
That brings us to the end of this five-part series on understanding and overcoming chronic depression. If you know someone who can make use of this series, I encourage you to pass it on via e-mail or in print form. Please remember: depression is normal and helpful to our lives. Chronic depression is not.
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Part 1: Understanding and Overcoming Chronic Depression
Part 2: How Do You Know That You Are Depressed?
Part 3: Nutritional Considerations for Chronic Depression
Part 4: Mind-Body Exercises to Help You Transcend Chronic Depression
Part 5: How to Use Physical Exercise and Acupressure to Address Chronic Depression
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