Depression is a common but highly under-rated disease. Most people don’t want to acknowledge it due to societal pressures and awkwardness. But slowly, people are accepting the challenges related to mental health and learning to be okay with it. It is time we recognize depression as a major health concern that needs to be addressed with medical help. Ayurveda offers a holistic and natural depression treatment. It uses therapies, natural herbs, and some effective lifestyle changes that cure depression for sure and for good.
What Is Depression?
Depression is a type of mental illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. It causes feelings of sadness or a loss of interest in most of the activities. It often leads to a variety of emotional and physical problems.
Medically, it is a mood disorder often characterized by prolonged feelings of sadness and loss of interest in daily activities. If the same symptoms persist for at least two weeks or more, it is considered to be a period of depression. It seems to be more common among women than men. Depression treatment in Ayurveda is possible without any side effects.
Causes of Depression
The causes of depression are not fully understood, but various factors are as follows:
- Genetics factors.
- Changes in neurotransmitter levels.
- Environmental factors.
- Psychological and social factors.
- Life events such as divorce, work issues, relationships with friends and family, financial problems, medical concerns, or acute stress.
- Abuse of recreational drugs such as abuse of alcohol, amphetamines, and other drugs are strongly linked to depression.
Symptoms of Depression
Symptoms of depression can vary from mild to severe which include the following:
- Feeling of sadness and a depressed mood.
- Reduced interest or pleasure in activities previously enjoyed.
- Loss of sexual desire.
- Unintentional weight loss or low appetite.
- Difficulty in sleeping or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping).
- Thoughts of ending life.
Types of Depression
- Bipolar disorder or depression - Bipolar depression occurs when the person experiences depressive episodes. Bipolar disorder can cause various mood swings in the person. Episodes in bipolar disorder typically range from episodes of high energy to depressive episodes of low energy.
- Depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) - Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder. It causes the feeling of unwanted and continuous thoughts, urges, and fears. These cause you to do the repeated behaviours or rituals that you hope will ease the stress.
- Major depressive disorder with seasonal pattern - Previously called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), this condition is related to the reduced daylight of winter - the depression occurs during this season but lifts for the rest of the year and in response to light therapy.
- Dysthymia - It causes a low mood over a long period, even a year or more.
- Severe depression - It shows up during the second half of the menstrual cycle and is called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.
Diagnosis and Ayurvedic Treatment of Depression
From an Ayurvedic perspective, depression results from a disturbance in the three natural doshas - Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. The treatment, therefore, is carried out by diagnosing the particular Dosha imbalance that caused the problem. Based on these three characteristics, the doctors identify three kinds of depression treatment in Ayurveda. Following therapies are used
for most severe and intense cases of depression:
- Nidana Parivarjana - Depression treatment in Ayurveda can be done with the help of this therapy. Various factors like trauma, use of steroids, pain killers, etc. need to be avoided.
- Shodhana Chikitsa (Bio-cleansing therapies) followed by Samana Chikitsa (Palliative therapy) may be done.
- Snehapana (Internal oleation) – This therapy is also done as depression treatment without medication with the help of various herbal oils.
- Virechana Therapy with herbal medications in half a glass of warm milk at bedtime in the night is recommended to depression patients.
Along with, there are a few other things that a patient needs to follow based on the kind of depression he or she has:
Vata Depression - The feelings generally associated with Vata-type depression are fear, anxiety, nervousness, and insomnia. The treatment for this kind of depression is done with the following remedies:
- Holy basil (tulsi) and sage tea. Drink twice a day.
- Nose drops of warm sesame oil (3-5 drops in each nostril). Morning and evening on an empty stomach.
- Rubbing the top of the head and the soles of the feet with sesame oil.
- Pitta Depression - Pitta depression can lead to dangerous suicidal thoughts. It is crucial to get in touch with a doctor and take proper treatment. The feelings associated with this type of depression are anger, fear of failure or losing control. In all cases of pitta depression, these ayurvedic treatments can help:
- Rub coconut oil onto your scalp and the soles of the feet just before bedtime.
- Drink herbal Ginko tea 2-3 times a day.
- Use Brahmi ghee nose drops on an empty stomach.
- Meditate, even as little as a few minutes a day can be very helpful.
- Kapha Depression - Kapha depression is associated with a feeling of heaviness, resulting in excess sleep, drowsiness, weight gain, etc. These natural, ayurvedic treatments to relieve Kapha depression:
- Fasting for 3-4 days to release toxins.
- Try endurance exercises.
- Ginger tea (ginger powder diluted in hot water) twice a day.
- Try punarnava ghee nasal drops – twice a day, 5 drops in each nostril.
- Surya namaskars – 12 repetitions a day.
Home Remedies for Depression
Depression treatment without medication can be done with the help of certain home remedies such as follows:
- Aerobic exercise can help against mild depression since it raises endorphin levels and stimulates the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which is related to mood.
- Certain yogic practices can always help one overcome depression.
- Brain stimulation therapies – These therapies include electroconvulsive therapy which is also used in depression treatment without medication.
- Reducing stress.
- Avoidance of non-vegetarian diet, frequent eating, and very high calory food.
- Avoidance of loneliness by engaging in social activities.
- Building strong relationships with others.
- Other techniques and ideas may also help you prevent depression. Read the full list of 15 ways you can avoid depression.
Prevention and Lifestyle Changes
Along with treatment, there are certain lifestyle changes and preventive measures that you should take for natural depression treatment:
- For many people, regular exercise helps create a positive feeling and improve their mood.
- Getting enough quality sleep regularly, eating a healthy diet and avoiding alcohol (a depressant) can also help reduce symptoms of depression.
- Depression is a real illness and help is available.
- If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, you should talk about your concerns and request a thorough evaluation with the doctor. This is a start to treating mental health needs.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
Deep Feeling of Sadness
Unintentional Weight Loss
Difficulty in Sleeping
Why To Choose Ayurveda?
Looks for the Root Cause
The ayurvedic approach of disease looks for the root cause and not merely the symptoms. Ayurveda offers two ways of treatment; One is Shodhan, and the other is Shaman. Shodhan is complete detoxification of the body by Panchakarma therapies. Shaman is balancing the doshas by Ayurveda medicines, diet, and lifestyle changes. Ayurveda medicines always work better in a patient detoxified with Panchakarma.
Ayurveda medicines are processed most naturally and not in the synthetic and chemical form. For this reason, the herbs are soft on the body, and there is no risk of side effects even if the patient requires to take them for longer durations. The complete eradication of the root cause ensures the cure and prevents future health complications.
Ayurveda is not merely a medical science. Instead, it is a philosophical science too. The basic principles of Ayurveda consider an individual human a specific identity and hence his treatment. Ayurveda gives importance to the treatment of the patient rather than the treatment of the disease. Two patients of the same disease can have different treatments because of the difference in their body constitution.