Anxiety – Stress - Mental Disorders - Depression– Stress - Mental Illness -Disease Problem Causes Symptoms Treatment as per Ayurveda and Traditional Healing Methods
What is Depression (Vishaad) ?
सत्वमात्मा शरीरं च त्रयमेतत्त्रिदण्डवत् ।…च.चि.१/૪६
Mind, Body and Soul are the three main pillars of life. So for a healthy, radiant life, the balance between all these correlated components of life is crucial, and imbalance in any of these can disrupt the healthy life.
In today’s fast-paced lifestyle, mental health has become a serious concern. Among all mental health issues, depression is most common condition affecting almost 350 million people directly or indirectly. In simple terms, depression is a mood disorder involving the persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.
Depression is usually neglected and socially unaccepted, and it not only disrupts the health of the patient, but also affects people around them. Although it is a common condition, but if left untreated for longer period, it may cause severe complications as other serious mental disorders or even suicide.
Depression as per Ayurveda
Ayurveda terms depression as Vishaad, Avsada, Manovsada, Manodukhaj unmaad or Kaphaj unmada. Rigveda describes it as
विशाद सर्वदा मनः खेदाः ।
असिद्धिभयात विविधेषु कर्मेषु अप्रवृत्ति विशाद ।
According to Acharya Dhalhan, it is a condition that originates from apprehension of failure, leading to the incapability of mind and soul to function normally.
Factors like sharirik doshas, dhatu, strotas, satva bala, agni, ojas, mansic dosha, gyanendriya and karmendriya can lead to depression.
The doshas of the physical body, such as vitiated Vata dosha (disturbance in prana and udan vata) is the main factor resulting in mental illness. Prana vata is responsible for controlling and functioning of the brain by buddhi dharana (retaining intellect) and mano dharana (control of mind).Whereas, Udan Vata is related to energy, enthusiasm, will power and memory. The Vyan Vata related to the core of mind is also responsible for mental stability.
Other dosha like Sadhak pitta and Avlambak kapha are also related to the heart. So any vitiation in any of these doshas due to stress, overthinking, feeling of sorrow, fear, unhealthy eating habits, inferiority complex, viruddha ahara and vihar (antagonistic food and lifestyle), tamasic food (meat, fish, onions, garlic, mushrooms, overripe and unripe fruits and vegetables), hina satva, etc. Depression is also affected by kaphaj unmada due to increase in kapha dosha and reduced vata.
कफज उन्माद लक्षणे
वाकचेष्टितं मन्दमरोचकञ्च नारीविविक्तप्रियता च निद्रा ।
छर्दिश्च लाला च बलं च भुक्ते नखादिशौक्ल्यं च कफात्मके स्यात् ॥..च.चि.९/१૪
Dhatu (body tissue) called Rasa dhatu gets affected by overthinking and stress, causing abnormalities in metabolism of other dhatus like – rakta, mamsa, meda, asthi, majja and shukra. These imbalances are responsible loss of appetite, anaemia, skin disorders, obesity or cachexia, changes in brain neurotransmitters (majja dhatu), lower libido, sexual dysfunction, etc.
Srotas are the channels of body responsible for secretion, conduction and transportation of various elements. The manovaha srota is channel for emotions, and depression is linked with the imbalance in this srotas.
The hina satva gets easily affected by causative factors.
The two gunas of mansic dosha, Raja and Tama are imbalanced during depression. Increase in tamo guna and decreased raja guna results in sadness, irritability and fatigue.
Agni: Mand agni caused due to above factors hampers the metabolism.
It is the essence of life, a qualitative end product of all dhatus of the body. But since all dhatus are affected during depression, Ojas is also disturbed.
Dhyanendriya (sense organ):
The sensory system of the body is disturbed and affects the functioning of organs, either in excess or less or abnormal function. For example, it can affect the eyes and cause double vision, blurred vision, or bipolar vision.
Karmendriya (five action organ):
The karmendriyas help in executing daily tasks,are vak (speech), pani (hands), pada (legs), payu (anus) and upastha (genitals). The imbalance in these organs results in loss of sphincter control, libido (reduced sexual desire), slowed speech and movement etc.
Causes Of Depression
Modern science does not define the exact cause of depression, but the potentially responsible factors that can trigger depression are:
• Genetic features
• Changes in brain neurotransmitter level
• Environmental factors
• Psychological and social factors
• Other physical conditions like thyroid, post partum, during and after menopause
Symptoms Of Depression
Some most common symptoms of depression are:
- Mood swings and feeling of sadness
- Loss of appetite
- Unintentional weight loss or obesity
- Sleepiness or insomnia
- Reduced sexual desire
- Fatigue and loss of energy
- Difficulty in thinking, concentration
- Irritability and anxiety
- Ruminating (dwelling on negative thoughts)
- Recurrent thought of guilt, worthlessness
- Suicidal tendencies
Management Of Depression
Ayurveda involves health of both body and mind for healthy living, so the treatment of depression includes treatment for both sharir and mana.
शरीरं सत्त्वसञ्ज्ञं च व्याधीनामाश्रयो मतः ।
तथा सुखानां, योगस्तु सुखानां कारणं समः ॥….च.सू.१/५५
The three types of treatment involved are: devvyapashraya (spiritual), yuktivyapashraya (rational) and satvavajaya (psychological).
Covering up the spiritual aspects of treatment, mantra chikitsa suggests chanting of mantras to help with better confidence, concentration and reduces depressed as well as negative thoughts.
The chain of treatments as per sharir dosha , dhatu and srotas of the individual, including medication and shodhan chikitsa like panchakarma, shirodhara, shiropichu, etc. Further satvik diet, meditation, yoga is practised as proper dincharya and ritucharya to maintain agni and ojas.
Satvavajaya chikitsa (psychotherapy)
The treatment to enhance satva guna, balance raja and tama guna for better dhyan (self knowledge), vigyan (analytic knowledge), dherya (confidence), smriti (wisdom, memory), samadhi (extreme concentration).
मानसो ज्ञानविज्ञानधैर्यस्मृतिसमाधिभिः ॥…च.चि.१/५८
Thus, with proper dincharya and rutucharya (knowledge of living), Ayurvedic treatments can help maintaining balance within all the three pillars of body, mind and soul.