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Qigong for Depression

  • anonymous Asks ...

    I am an alcoholic and I have recurring depression which I think is probably undiagnosed bipolar since I definitely have periods of mania but my psychiatrist doesn’t think so and since he controls the meds that’s why I cant get right sometimes and its also why I am tired of western medicine and I want to explore more ways of self healing without chemicals. I was recommended Qigong which basically all about getting your life force in order. When your qi doesn’t flow properly you have illness and unhappiness. As I understand it even doctors admit that it works but they cannot explain why it works. Would you say that qigong is a good thing to try for depression and alcoholism?

  • Dr. Mark Abrahams Says ...
    Dr.  Mark Abrahams

    I am not averse to other models of health, but admittedly, I am not a practitioner of Qigong, Tai Chi, or other Chinese systems. Aside from having read a handful of books on Taoist practices and having taken a course on the short Yang form of Tai Chi, I must admit ignorance. I have, however, been a student of Indian and Sikh forms of Yoga, as well as having written a dissertation paralleling Tibetan Buddhist Yoga with western psychological theories. I state all this simply to establish the fact that I do respect non-allopathic systems of health and wholeness.

    That being said, I will also say that I am not a medical doctor, nor do I recommend an all-or-nothing extremism. I was once pulled into participating in a Bible-reading prayer session in an American public school, to aid a boy who had 'episodes!' Those episodes were explained medically as the result of sickle cell anemia, where the sickling was occurring in his brain, resulting in transient psychotic episodes. He was receiving treatment at the local clinic for this medical condition, while also being treated 'as if' he was being oppressed by demons, as described biblically. In THAT particular case, I personally belonged on the medical side of the physical-metaphysical continuum.

    In your instance, I would begin to familiarize myself with the practices and philosophy of Qigong, while continuing to receive medical treatment. Medicine operates under one world-view while Qigong operates under completely different assumptions. The subjective factor is very important in Qigong, just as it is in Yoga and Ayurvedic medicine. One cannot assume an eastern model with western assumptions and expect it to work similarly. The subjective factor is also a component of homeopathy and spagyric alchemy, and one does not simply go through the physical actions in order to reap any benefits. There is a necessary shift in the psychosomatic aspect, and I do not use the term in a typically western way, as if to marginalize the psychic aspect, like 'it's just in your mind.' No, one must transition between models, such that if proficiency in Qigong reduces one's need for medication, fine. Just jumping ship from a medical model to a metaphysical model would be reckless. As human beings, we belong to both domains simultaneously, and one must establish balance. By all means learn Qigong, but do not simply abandon the medical model. That would do violence to your dual nature. Transition with patience and with evidence of gains.

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