Richard G. Petty, MD

Qigong in the Treatment of Depression

I first started teaching T’ai Chi Ch’uan and qigong over 20 years ago, and I was always impressed by the apparent benefits for people with chronic low mood. Not so much in people with severe depression, but in people who were just chronically miserable.

During a visit to Hong Kong in 2004, I heard about some interesting research that’s just been published. Researchers from the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Kwai Chung Hospital, examined the effects of regular qigong in 82 older people with a diagnosis of depression. After just eight weeks of regular daily practice, there was an overall improvement in mood, self-efficacy and personal well-being. By week sixteen there were really quite marked improvements not just in mood, but also in activities of daily living and how people felt about themselves.

We know that there are close links between mood and the immune system, so this research fits in with a study from Tokyo in which a breathing method said to enhance Qi was shown to reduce stress and modulate the function of the immune system.

There are many studies of qigong, but they are of variable quality. Another one which supports both of these two studies comes from Korea, where something slightly different – qigong therapy – was shown to help both pain and mood in older people with chronic pain form a variety of causes.

I do not think that we have enough evidence to try using qigong alone in the treatment of depression, which is, after all, a potentially fatal condition. But I do think that Qigong is an important part of an Integrated Medicine program, and I am creating more resources for people to do the first stages of qigong on their own.

About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

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