Depression Kills, Qigong Saves

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I owe my life to the practice of an ancient healing art called qigong.

Those who haven’t experienced depression firsthand, or seen it in a loved one, might mistakenly think that I’m being melodramatic.

When I say that I’d be dead if not for qigong, I mean it literally, not figuratively.

Depression is deadlier than you think. It kills. It almost killed me.

Each year, 40,000 Americans commit suicide. Of those, 90% are connected to a diagnosable case of clinical depression.

In the U.S., suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for all ages. For comparison, homicide ranks 17th.

And it’s getting worse. In the 25-34 age group, depression is now the 2nd leading cause of death.

Finding Qigong

That’s why I’m so grateful that I found qigong (and later tai chi). Otherwise, I might have ended up as a statistic.

Qigong is all about flow – flowing movements, flowing energy, flowing with the breath. Learning to let it flow was a lifesaver for me. It has been my path through the darkness and the pain.

Qigong (pronounced “chee gung”)  is a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is similar to but simpler  than tai chi, less athletic than yoga, and more accessible than sitting meditation. In my experience — both as a “patient” and a healer — it is one of the most effective depression solutions anywhere on the planet.

When Antidepressants Don’t Work

Antidepressants have undoubtedly saved lives, but they are not for everyone. They certainly weren’t for me.

You may be surprised to learn that a $35 million study showed that antidepressants fail to cure the symptoms of major depression in half of all patients, even if they receive the best possible care.


In other words, of the 18 million Americans suffering from depression, 9 million are still desperate for solutions. This says nothing of the countless Americans who suffer from depression, but go undiagnosed.

We need other options for these people. In my opinion, qigong provides an excellent option.

The Cause of Depression

Qigong is actually a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), along with acupuncture, Chinese herbology, and Chinese massage therapy.

According to TCM, depression is caused by a disharmony of yin and yang.

When our energy systems are functioning optimally, then yin and yang are harmonized. This harmony is represented by the familiar yin-yang symbol.

But if this energy flow is blocked, if there is disharmony of yin and yang, then depression and other illnesses can creep in.

By practicing qigong daily, we gradually restore the yin-yang harmony throughout the body. We do this by removing the obstacles that are blocking the smooth flow of energy in the meridians, or energy channels.

As the energy begins to flow smoother and smoother, the body and mind naturally start to heal.

While healing my depression, my aching low back pain also disappeared, I caught fewer and fewer colds and flus, I got rid of my chronic bronchitis, my heart murmur gradually disappeared, my anxiety leveled out, and my energy levels went through the roof.

I just wanted to feel normal again, but qigong helped me to feel ALIVE.

Strategies for Depression

The first, and perhaps the most important, technique for depressives is called Smiling from the Heart. The technique is easier to experience than to describe. When done correctly, Smiling from the Heart has several effects:

  • It relaxes the nervous system.
  • It shifts the brain waves into the Theta state.
  • It activates the internal energy.

Smiling from the Heart is critical for depressives. It’s also challenging. When my teacher first asked me to smile from the heart, I thought to myself, “If I could smile from the heart, I wouldn’t be depressed!” 

It is essential that depressives make the effort to smile from the heart each and every practice session. I and my students are living proof that depressives can learn to smile from the heart. It just takes practice, and perhaps a little encouragement (which is what I’m here for!).

Depressives can think of Smiling from the Heart as physical therapy for their energetic “heart”. After months in a cast with a broken leg, learning to walk can be difficult. It does not happen over night, but rather step by step.

Technique #2 – Lifting the Sky

Another great technique is called Lifting the Sky. In my school, it’s the first exercise that new students learn, but it also happens to be fantastic for depression.

Qigong is much more than just physical movements.  If physical movements alone could cure depression, then depression would be cured with this article.  Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

Nevertheless, Lifting the Sky is an excellent way to start.  The physical movements feel good, and they give people, especially depressives, something to latch the mind on to (something that depressives don’t get with sitting meditation).  In time, and with proper instruction, those movements can be turned into more powerful energy exercises.

Quality vs. Quantity

Some Qigong styles require an hour or more of daily practice. For depressives, this is a deal-breaker. They simply will not succeed with that approach. I speak from experience.

With my students, I emphasize a high-quality 15-minute routine. For depressive students, even that can be too challenging. For them, the 2-Minute Drill provides an excellent solution. Again, I speak from experience.

Many people are surprised to hear that I started out as a bad student. For almost 2 years, I failed with qigong. That’s because I was trying to practice for 30 minutes a day.  It just didn’t work.

Everything changed for me when I resolved to practice the 2-Minute Drill every day, no matter what.  I made that resolution on January 1st, 2000 and I haven’t missed a day of practice since.  (You can read more about that story in my post 8 Tips for Building Discipline.)


One of the best things we can do for depressives is to give them hope.  And there is abundant hope.  Qigong provides a viable, practical, and economical solution to depression.  It can also be used alongside traditional treatment methods.

Here is my vision.  One day, if myself and other teachers do their jobs well, then millions of people will be turning to qigong for solutions.  Yes — millions.   Why will so many people turn to qigong?

Simple.  Because it works.

As someone who has battled clinical depression for years, I want to help.

I would ask you to help me in my mission by sharing this article with anyone suffering from depression.  Please help me reach them.

If you know someone who suffers from depression, then please, please, share this article with them.  It might just save their life. 

Mindfully yours,
Sifu Anthony

I’m Anthony Korahais, and I used qigong to heal from clinical depression, low back pain, anxiety, and chronic fatigue. I’ve already taught thousands of people from all over the world to use qigong for their own stubborn health issues. I teach online courses, and also lead in-person retreats and workshops.

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14 Responses to Depression Kills, Qigong Saves

  1. Kristin April 12, 2012 at 9:50 pm #

    Can you refer me to a teacher in Georgia (I’m 50 miles west of Atlanta)?

  2. JR September 4, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

    Admittedly, I study locally with my own teacher and such. I live a good ways away from you, Sifu Anthony, but I hope that you do not mind me commenting on your website as it is still an excellent source of information indeed.

    I am someone who has struggled with depression for well over half of my life. I’ve been seriously unhappy since I was a small child, and only recently have I been able to finally overcome at least some of these negative influences. Naturally, it is a difficult battle. I have realistic expectations and I know that it’s going to be a tough opponent to beat. However, I haven’t felt quite as good ever before as I have since I started training in T’ai Chi Ch’uan and Chi Kung. If you’ll excuse me, I took Chinese in college so I got used to using these romanizations as opposed to more modern ones.

    My Sifu has me working on something similar to your 30-day challenges, if you remember that blog post. I am working very hard to go one month without depression. He prefers that I do not use the word ‘try’ since that indicates the possibility of a failure. So far, my record is 27 days. I’ve learned to tell that there is a difference between sadness and depression. Sadness refers to a dryness of pleasure, while depression is when one is no longer happy. Pleasure may be fleeting but happiness is permanent.

    I also have a completely pathological obsession with reading upsetting news headlines. It comes from when I was a little child and my grandmother used to force me to watch the news for long periods of time. I felt that upsetting myself with the news was the only way to get control over a chaotic and dangerous world. However, it’s dawned on me that if it’s truly scary out there I need to be in a better mindset in order to face things. What used to be a three hour ritual is now a ten minute one. I still want to cut down on it though, but I figure that the saved electrical energy is doing far more for the world than scaring myself ever did.

    • Sifu Anthony September 7, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

      Keep practicing, and soon you’ll be like me — someone who looks back on Depression as a distant memory.

  3. Amanda December 5, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

    Your story is very inspiring! I overcame anxiety, infertility, and hypothyroid issues with Yoga and a holistic diet.

    I have started an organization called Pharm to Farm, which aims to expose the pharmaceutical companies by sharing stories of people who have healed without prescription medication, chemo, etc. I would love to speak with you more about being involved in our project if you’re interested.

    Please get back to me at your soonest convenience so we can chat more.

    Namaste, Amanda

  4. June Tucker October 31, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

    Has Chi Gong ever been known to cure advanced cancer?

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais November 5, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

      Hi June. That’s a really difficult question for me to answer. Let me start by making it clear that I’m not a doctor. In the US, it is illegal to treat cancer unless you are an oncologist. So even regular medical doctors cannot treat cancer.

      If you’re asking for my opinion, then yes, I would have to admit that I personally believe that Qigong, combined with other holistic methods like nutrition and herbs, can reverse cancer. I also believe that there are a lot of exciting alternative cancer treatments out there that are not being given the attention they deserve.

      My wife had cancer at a young age. She chose surgery because the tumor was large and life-threatening. But she declined chemo and radiation. You can read her story here:

  5. Luis October 22, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

    Hi Sifu, How are You? I have a question, if someone is taken medicines for depresión that make your brain sleepy… How does this could effects on a qi gong práctice? (Sorry for my english)

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais October 25, 2014 at 11:01 am #

      Hi Luis. If the medication is necessary, then there’s no choice. Just do your best to practice Qigong anyway. Try practicing at different times of day — in the morning, afternoon, and evening. See what works best for you!

  6. Holly October 23, 2014 at 8:13 pm #

    Hi Anthony,
    My mum and I have been suffering from clinical depression for 2 months now. We both know that we have it because we have lost interest in things we love, we also can’t find the energy to get out of bed and be there for each other. This is honestly heartbreaking because we love each other dearly but we aren’t ourselves.
    I live in a small town that doesn’t have much to help us mentally. Reading your article about the holistic approach has given me hope and I want to try this out for both mum and my benefits. How can we get hold of this? Are there video reviews? Anything.
    We both don’t want to live like this.
    Thanks for your help.

  7. Monika January 14, 2015 at 10:20 pm #

    Hi Anthony ,
    Can you refer me to a teacher in Lynnwood, WA
    Thanks !

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais January 15, 2015 at 11:34 am #

      Hi Monika. Unfortunately, I don’t know any good teachers in that area. The good news is that I’m gearing up to offer live online classes where you can not only see me, but I can also see you! Keep an eye on my newsletter for details.

  8. Mauro January 25, 2016 at 6:36 am #

    Hey – i m from Switzerland – Differänz Depression about 15 years – i really want to try Gigong – di you know teachers im my Ares?? Mauro

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