Depression

Depression is one of the most common emotional disorders. It may be manifested in varying degrees; from feeling of slight sadness to utter misery and dejection. Depression is a very unpleasant malady and is far more difficult to cope with than a physical crisis. The mental stress and strain of day-to-day life usually leads to this disorder.

Symptoms of Depression

  • The most striking symptoms of depression are an acute sense of loss, inexplicable sadness, loss of energy, lack of interest in the world around oneself and fatigue. Disturbed sleep is a frequent occurrence.
  • Other symptoms of depression are loss of appetite, giddiness, itching, nausea, agitation, irritability, impotence or frigidity, constipation, aches and pains all over the body, lack of concentration and indecisiveness.
  • Cases of severe depression may be characterized by low body temperature, low blood pressure, hot flushes and shivering.
  • Studies show that those suffering from depression are four times more likely to experience extreme and debilitating pain in the neck and lower back.
  • Those who are depressed are also likely to be overweight. This can be attributed to the comfort eating and readymade foods (because you wouldn’t feel like stepping out to buy groceries or cook). While comfort food can amp up levels of serotonin in the brain which positively impacts mood, but over time it can cause one to pile on the pounds while triggering feelings of guilt and shame, apart from doing nothing to treat the actual reason one is depressed. On the flip side, depression can also take away your appetite and cause some people to lose weight.
  • If you have sudden outbursts of rage or are feeling like you’re in a constant funk, it’s quite possible that you are depressed. A study published by the JAMA Psychiatry journal found that 54% of depressed people felt hostility, grumpiness, argumentative, foul-tempered or angry. Sometimes, one may also get a feeling of numbness and go through days with a “zombie-like” attitude.
  • Your social life has gone completely virtual instead of being in the real world. Internet addiction and distancing oneself from real human companionship is usually a common coping mechanism.
  • On a daily basis, we make more than 70 conscious decisions and most of them are considered “no-brainers.” Eat yogurt or cereal? Wear a black tie with that suit? But when one is depressed, these cognitive processes are impaired and even the smallest decisions seem to take a toll on the mind.
  • If you have started to neglect your physical wellbeing and appearance, it is quite likely a sign of being in distress.

Causes of Depression

  • Prolonged periods of anxiety and tension can cause mental depression.
  • The excessive and indiscriminate use of drugs also leads to faulty assimilation of vitamins and minerals by the body and ultimately causes depression. Birth control pills also interfere with healthy hormone levels in women and result in depression.
  • While seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is usually linked to wintertime blues, one can also get depression during warm weather when the body might not immediately make the shift to the new season. An imbalance in brain chemistry and the hormone melatonin may cause depression to strike in the summer sun.
  • Nicotine boosts neurotransmitter activity in the brain, increasing the levels of dopamine and serotonin (which is exactly the modus operandi of antidepressants drugs). This is why offer an explanation of why the substance is so addictive, and mood swings that accompany withdrawal. Being smoke-free could really maintain the delicate balance of your brain chemicals.
  • Depression is one of the symptoms of hypothyroidism as the thyroid hormone works as a neurotransmitter and regulates serotonin levels in the brain.
  • Sleep deprivation can make you more irritation and prone to depression as the brain stops functioning optimally when it is not well-rested.
  • When something that we are attached to comes to an end like moving to a new home (while being attached to the old house) or reaching the season finale of a beloved TV show or movie series, it could produce a depressive state of mind.
  • Nature journal conducted a study in 2011 about city dwellers having a higher risk of developing psychotic disorders than those who live in rural areas. Depression rates also differ country-wise and state-wise. It has been observed that high GDP countries have greater incidences of depression than low-income nations. The risk of suicide also climbs higher with altitude.
  • Not getting enough omega-3 fatty acids like those found in fish and vegetable oils may lead to depression.
  • Research shows that healthy sibling bonds developed early in life could set the foundation for being able to relate to peers and socialize.

Ayurveda and Depression

Depression is called Vishada or Chittavsada in Ayurveda. From an Ayurvedic perspective, depression is primarily caused due to an imbalance of the Kapha dosha. This vitiates Vata dosha which in turn vitiates Pitta, causing an imbalance in the ideal functioning of the nervous system. However, we can classify depression by the dominant dosha as follows.

Vata depression can strike when one experiences loss, which creates a void in one’s life increasing the Air and Space elements. The loss of a parent, spouse, job or home can result in Vata type depression. In this kind, one may show physical signs associated with Vata dosha like emaciation.

Kapha dosha is responsible for depression that is characterized by attachment or clinging to something or someone that is lost. Since Kapha is associated with the elements of Water (creating attachment and bonding, a lasting connection) and Earth (stubborn and rigid stability, a resistance to change). Kaphic manifestations of depression include laziness, lack of appetite, need to be alone and excessive sleep.

Pitta depression is usually characterized by feeling burnt-out. It is a self-criticizing state of mind that comes from feeling like one has failed to live to one’s own expectations. Failing a test, being fired from a job or not being a top performer could all produce Pitta type depression. Irritability and distress are classic Pitta signs along with abuse of alcohol and drugs.

The Ayurvedic treatment of depression starts with counselling that looks into the patient’s history, diet and general lifestyle in order to make appropriate suggestions. Practicing yoga and pranayama along with Ayurvedic therapies can cure this condition.

Ayurvedic Remedies for Depression

Herbs
  • Cardamom (Elettaria Cardamomum): The pleasant aroma of this healing herb is one of the natural remedies to soothe depression. Drinking a cup of cardamom tea can be really helpful during tough times.
  • Rose (Rosa Rosaceae): Add a few drops of rose (gulab) oil to your bath water. Drinking pure rose water can help bust stress and keep depression away. Drink a cup of cold milk with a teaspoon of rose petal jam or gulkand in the mornings to feel enlivened.
  • Jatamansi (Nardostachys Jatamansi): An effective nervine tonic, jatamansi or spikenard is extensively used to treat depression naturally. Take 3 to 5 gms (half to one teaspoon) of jatamansi powder twice a day with water 1 – 2 hrs after meals. A good Ayurvedic medicine for depression consists of Shatavari – 3 gms, Brahmi – 5 gms, Guduchi – 5 gms and Jatamansi – 3 gms. Mix these powders and divide into 3 parts. Consume thrice a day after meals.
  • Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera): Ashwagandha is one of the best herbal remedies for depression. Winter cherry is an adaptogen and has been found by the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology to rival diazepam in its benefits for depression and anxiety.
  • Brahmi (Bacopa Monnieri): Considered to be one of the best Ayurvedic antidepressants, brahmi is an adaptogenic herb. Vata type depression can be treated with brahmi ghee and brahmi oil massage.
  • Guduchi (Tinospora Cordifolia): Guduchi or giloy is an effective natural treatment for depression. Drink 30ml of giloy juice every morning on an empty stomach. Guduchi’s potent powers can be amplified when taken with amla (Indian gooseberry).
  • Tulsi (Ocimum Sanctum): Consume 5-10 ml tulsi juice thrice a day before meals preferably with honey. Tulsi leaves can be made into a tea for uplifting the mood.
Ayurvedic Supplements (to be taken under physician’s guidance – Consult Now)               Stress Guard

              Brahmi Bati (S.yu)

              Ashwagandharishta

              Saraswatarishta

               Dashamoolaristha

              Abrakh Bhasma (1000 kuti)

              Swarnavasant Malti

              Brihatvatchintamani Ras

              Makardwaj Bati

              Smriti Sagar Ras

              Brahmi Ghrita

Diet
  • In the treatment for mental depression, one must eat foods that Ayurveda considers intelligent foods. The diet of the person suffering from depression should completely exclude tea, coffee, alcohol, sodas and artificially flavored/colored food. Foods that are fresh, natural and unprocessed are filled with natural intelligence- they digest well and create ojas – the inner force of stability and contentment.
  • Try to take more vegetables and fresh fruits and juices.
  • Warm spices such as ginger, clove and black pepper are excellent for medha agni (the fiery quality that metabolizes fat). The right metabolism of fat helps brain functions like memory, speaking ability, and motor skills.
Lifestyle
  • A person suffering from depression can overcome it by being more active, turning away from himself, and diverting his attention towards other people and things. The pleasure of achieving something overcomes distress or misery.
  • Exercise also plays an important role in the treatment of depression. It not only keeps the body physically and mentally fit but also provides recreation and mental relaxation.
  • One must meditate to heal from depression. Chanting mantras can also raise your personal vibrations to benefit the mind on a subconscious level. Repeating a mantra (like a bija mantra) are sounds that are embedded into the consciousness to create and align with positive thinking patterns. Prayers, invocations and affirmations are all forms of extended mantras that can be used to focus intentionality. It also helps the mind build up concentration and memory.
  • The color gold can be instrumental in building ojas and boosting mental agility and immunity. Gold also promotes the sattvic consciousness (clarity).
  • Aromatherapy can also prove to be a powerful natural way to beat depression. Tulsi, calamus, clary sage, camphor, jasmine and wintergreen essential oils can clear the mind. Other beneficial aromatherapy blends for depression can be made with myrrh, frankincense, sage and mint.
  • An abhyanga (self-massage) with a warming oil like apricot, sesame, sunflower, etc. can soothe the mind and refresh the senses. One can also perform shiro abhyanga (head massage) with Chandan Bala Laxadi oil and Mahanarayan Oil.
  • One of the Panchkarma therapies Shirodhara is also very effective for relieving stress and depression.
Yoga
  • Basic Breathing (Pranayama)
  • Meditation
  • Child’s Pose (Balasana)
  • Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
  • Reverse Warrior Pose (Viparita Virabhadrasana)