Understanding Depression and How to Tackle It
Out of sight out of mind. That’s the saying. But it doesn’t go well with depression. The silent killer that according to the WHO (World Health Organisation) affects 1 in 4 people at some point in their life. In fact, studies have revealed that 90% of people who have attempted suicide could have been diagnosed with a psychological disorder that went unaddressed. For some people, medication is a last resort and may not treat the disorder in and of itself but just fix the symptoms. Do consult a doctor if you suspect you or a loved one may be suffering from depression or any other type of psychological disorder. Ayurveda would aim at treating the root cause not just the symptoms.
Depression and Ayurveda
Several studies and research suggests that depression may be caused by an imbalance in the doshas (bio-energies) within a person. You can find your dosha here. The symptoms of depression may attribute to a whole host of causes. These may range from anxiety and feeling low, to fatigue and insomnia. Ayurveda suggests the treatment of the root cause primarily. However, with that being said, Ayurveda believes that primarily there is an imbalance in your Kapha dosha which leads to lethargy and depression. This is because Kapha dosha that is associated with Water and Earth is what creates structure and stability. Off kilter, it can create overt attachment, gluttony and greed.
Vata dosha is associated with Air and Space elements so it provides movement and energy. If Vata goes off balance, then one can feel "spaced out." Imbalance of Vata can also give rise to feelings of fear, anxiety and lack of groundedness.
Pitta dosha is the fiery energy of the intellect; it is the ability of the mind to understand, discriminate and learn the truth. Pitta type depression makes people perceive themselves as lesser in terms of performance or achievement, bringing feelings of failure or burnout. Being fired from a job, failing a test or not being able to get top position can trigger Pitta depression which manifests in irritability and anguish.
Like western medical thought, Ayurveda too believes that depression is the accumulation of an excess of chemicals and toxins which may lead to the predisposition of being depressed.
Here’s What to Do About it
First things first. Get a professional opinion. Seeing is not always believing in the case of depression, see a mental health practitioner before knocking your hunch out. Depression, especially in India, is often ignored and attributed to something else. Don’t wait to be proved right, get the help you need ASAP. Depression is a real illness. It is the cancer we cannot see. But we can treat it. Get a professional diagnosis and do not be alone.
Natural Herbs and Supplements to Combat Depression
Now here are some natural remedies you may use to help you along your way to sound mental health. The best part of these remedies is that they have none to negligible side effects.
Brahmi and Ayurveda
Brahmi is one of those herbs in Ayurvedic medicine that is an all rounder, a sort of go-to like ashwagandha (we’ll get to it below) or neem or turmeric.
Brahmi for Depression
Brahmi ghrit, was used in a study treating 42 patients that matched the criteria of having a major depressive episode, the study revealed that upon treatment with brahmi ghrita 50% of the participants showed an overall improvement, and 35% a mild improvement suggesting this study was significant in its findings.
If you do not have access to brahmi ghrita you can use brahmi leaves. Try making a tea, take dry brahmi leaves (1 tsp) in warm water and let steep. Enjoy and get the mental health benefits of brahmi. Here is where you can buy brahmi.
Ashwagandha for Depression
Ashwagandha is one of the power herbs often covered here. It has properties that benefit both depression and anxiety. It can lower the production of your stress hormone “cortisol.” It also reducs levels of anxiety that can at times go hand in hand with depression. We recommend 1-2 capsules daily, you can get some from here.
The Take Away
Mental health is something we should shoulder as a society, just like we may support cancer research or Alzheimer's treatments. It is something that can have clear, distinct consequences if left untreated. Ayurveda looks at treating the cause of depression holistically, but remember if you do feel like you are suffering you don’t have to do so alone. Get the help you need to live happier.