Among the dreadful psychological disorders, depression takes lion-share. In worldwide population also, 5-6 % people suffer from depression. The incidence is quite higher (10-11%) in developed countries. Interestingly, higher the status of education and profession, higher the life complications. Dissatisfaction and over expectations in life and profession leads to depression.
Everyone has got this “born to win” attitude. We hardly come across people who would say, “I will accept the defeat which I may face in every step, will learn from it and improvise. Thus, I will finally win”. This is why it is very common to find dissatisfied individuals around us. People are unhappy with the feeling that they could not achieve the educational status, monitory satisfaction, political powers or higher recognition in the society.
Depression is explained as a causative factor for many diseases. A positive mindset helps you to reach pristine heights, a depressed mind welcomes many diseases, apart from that feeling of negativity.
Table of Contents
Here are a few causes for mental depression –
TV causes depression – watching TV for long hours is a known cause of depression. Apart from keeping your body inactive, TV indulgence keeps your mind dull and inactive as well.
Drinking causes depression – Though you feel elevated and get a cloud-9 feeling, once the kick leaves you, depression attacks.
Excessive indulgence in internet and social networking – Gossiping, feeling jealous about a friend’s new car pics on facebook, comparing your performance or status with others, failing to grab attention or receive responses to your posting etc cause a lot of pressure and depression. So beware. orkut, twitter and facebook causes depression.
Sleep and depression are inter-related. 20 % of people with insomnia tend to have depression. Conversely people with depression tend to suffer from insomnia.
Genetic factor is a known cause.
Biological causes such as imbalance in neuro- transmitters (nerve – Chemical messengers) – serotonin, Acetylcholine, catecholamines etc.
Women and depression – In women, the hormones oestrogen and progesterone are also found to have a role in depression. This is also a reason why women tend to get Pre Menstrual Symptoms.
Age related depression – feeling of dependence, lack of body strength, nagging chronic diseases, uncaring children, worries about future etc makes elderly people vulnerable to depression.
Comparison with others – People often compare their life and status with others; usually their neighbours, relatives, classmates or colleagues. When they feel that they are inferior in any of the respects of one’s own thinking, he starts worrying and hating those individuals or sectors or group of people. Ultimately the jealousy they develop will burn them , each and every moment.
Causes for depression according to Ayurveda
Intake of incompatible food (Viruddhahara)
Intake of excess Kapha aggravating food (Kaphaja Ahara)
Food possessing heaviness, slowness, cooling and unctuous properties.( Guru-Manda-Sheeta-Snigdha Ahara)
Tamasika food (Food which provoke Tamas.)
Excess sleep (Nidradhikya)
Sedentary life (Akarmana)
Fear (Adhairya/ Bhaya) etc.
Click to read about depressive symptoms and when to seek medical help during depression.
Ayurvedic concept of depression:
‘Mano avasada‘ is the word we find in Ayurvedic literature about depression or inferiority. Ayurveda points out specific reasons for this kind of attitude. Even though this particular problem is not narrated under a single heading in classical literature, we come across scattered references of depression in various contexts.
Loss of concentration (Adheera drishti)
Reduced working ability (Karma hani )
Suicidal thoughts etc.
Read more –
When to seek medical advice during depression
When you can manage yourself, without seeking medical advice
Wake up early in the morning. Early morning hours are dominated by Vata, which elevates your mood levels and keeps you motivated and energised throughout the day. Learn how to wake up early
Exercise – Exercise not only builds your body, it also elevates mood and self confidence. At least 10 minutes of walking, jogging, or outdoor games with kids should be good enough.
Hobbies – Hobby is a great way to divert your attention from depression and to open up your creative mind. Learn how hobbies can cure depression
Friend in need – There must be someone in your family or friend circle who totally understands you and motivates you. Chat with him / her daily and get motivation and emotional support.
Eating Habits – Include a variety of fruits and vegetables. Avoid excess salt and spicy foods
Have more of apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, collards, peaches, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato blueberries, broccoli, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, peppers, potatoes, strawberries, tomato, margarine, nuts and seeds, vegetable oils, wheat germ.
Line of treatment
First line of treatment begins from assurance and confidence building through series of counselling and solving personal problems. This is done by talking to the patient and also helping the kin of patient to make necessary adjustments. For example, if the parents are very strict with their son, causing depression in the son, then the parents are advised to be a bit lenient.
The medicaments possessing carminative and digestive properties (Deepana and Pachana) are found to be essential to stimulate and improve body metabolism.
Cleansing Panchakarma therapies such as purgation (Virechana) and Nasal drops(Nasya) are adopted based on necessity;
Virechana treatment balances Pitta and Vata dosha, which are related to mood, intelligence etc.
Nasya treatment strengthens mind and sense organs.
Suitable medicines are administered – to correct mood, sleeping habits, to improve self confidence etc.
Hot or cold herbs for depression
Should Ayurvedic medicines for depression have hot properties or cold properties?
Answer by Dr JV Hebbar
It is a tricky proposition.
A depression, when he visits an Ayurveda doctor, there will be decreased digestion strength, low mood, lack of interest, suicidal ideations etc.
All these require stimulating herbs to break the chain of negative thoughts and inhibitions in his mind.
Hence, in the initial phase for about 1-2 weeks, medicines of hot potency are chosen.
For example, Hingvashtaka Churna or Shaddharana Churna / tablet.
Depression patients usually have Vata Dosha aggravation. Their mind has same repeating negative thoughts that they will not be open to fresh positive ideas. Both the herbal powders mentioned, are useful in balancing Vata Dosha as well.
These herbs, due to their hot potency and spiciness, stimulate the brain centers, stimulate the fire in their belly (digestive strength or Agni), which will help them to break the chain of negative thoughts.
But the tricky thing about hot potency herbs, is – excess spicy foods can cause racing thoughts, can cause Vata Dosha aggravation, if taken for a longer period of time. Hence, their use is limited to initial few weeks.
Some people cannot tolerate spices. In them, the above herbs are administered along with ghee. Ghee is useful to kindle the digestion strength, to stimulate the mind but also nullifies the adverse mucosal irritation effect of the spices.
Once after the initial stimulation, a mixture of hot and cold herbs that stimulate the brain and calms down the racing mind are chosen.
In the second stage, the herbs and medicines are chosen to improve brain functions, to bring calmness to the mind and to the initiate the person to think logically.
Example of hot potency herbs:
Vacha – Acorus calamus
Guduchi (Giloy / Indian Tinospora) etc.
Example of coolant herbs:
Shatavari – Asparagus racemosus
Brahmi, Gotu Kola, Licorice etc.
Along with these herbs,
Panchakarma therapy like nasya – nasal drops, herbal smoking, oil therapies such as Shirodhara, Abhyanga (oil massage etc). are combined to tackle the depression comprehensively from all angles.
Herbs used in depression
Vacha-Sweet flag – Acorus calamus – Useful to improve intelligence, in cases of depression associated with aggressive behaviour (such as Manic Depressive Psychosis), irrelevant talk etc
Jyotishmati-Celastrus paniculatus – Improves intelligence, digestion strength and body metabolism
Jatamansi – Nardostachys jatamamsi – Useful in depression, psychosis and lack of sleep.
Heeng-Asafetida – useful in depression associated with gastritis symptoms, bloating, anorexia etc.
Cumin seeds, Ajamoda-Celery – Useful in depression with gastric complaints
Ashwagandha – Useful in depression associated with lack of body strength, lack of sleep, lack of energy
Pushkaramoola-Inula plant – Useful in depression associated with anxiety, breathing difficulties, etc.
Ginger, Turmeric and Nutmeg – Useful in depression with respiratory and digestive symptoms.
Jyotishmati Taila – 2-3 drops are added to milk and taken twice daily
Mamsyadi Kashaya – 30 ml twice daily in empty stomach
Anu Taila (For Nasya)
Ashwagandharishta – used in the treatment of sexual disorders, depression etc.
Hinguvachadi Choorna – also useful in Ayurvedic treatment of indigestion, bloating and abdominal pain
Pushkara moolasava – also useful in treating Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder, Bronchitis etc
Brahmi Ghrita – Useful in improving intelligence, learning skills and speech.
Mahapaishachika Ghrita – useful in psychosis and depression
As the complaint ‘depression’ is troublesome to the person as well as his family, immediate attention is to be given. Proper care, consultation of psychiatrists, assurance, carrier guidelines, education towards health-life and profession will help the patient to recover from it swiftly and prevents untoward incidences like chronic depression and suicide.
Article by Dr Krishnamurthy and Dr Hebbar
Best exercise for depression
What is the best exercise for depression and obesity?
My definition of exercise is –
You should do it daily, at least for 10-15 minutes.
You should be sweating at the end of it with breathing level near to catching-your-breath.
There are many exercise options which fit into this category, such as
brisk walking, jogging, hot yoga, quick gym etc.
Walking / jogging requires a treadmill or a nice weather.
Yoga requires lot of training to hit the postures right.
Gym training requires gym equipment.
What if I recommend you something which requires only a very little space, can be done both indoor and outdoor, which requires an investment of $10 or 150 Indian Rupees per 3 months?
It is jumping rope or skipping rope.
It is ideal to lose weight, very fast paced, good for heart and breathing, strengthens the abdominal muscles, burns abdominal and hip fat fast hence useful in obesity, also doubles up as an arm exercise, takes only 5 – 15 minutes of your everyday to burn anywhere between 300-500 calories.
Just start it and the exercise itself will take you through the next 10-15 minutes, so requires very less motivation and ideal for patients with depression.
For patients with depression, they need some time in which they do not think about their pain point (cause of depression such as financial loss).
During jumping the rope, you are so out of your breath the concentration is naturally drawn to your heart and breathing and away from your pain points.
A patient of depression can also use this for motivation, if he thinks as below, while he is jumping the rope.
“Jumping out of all my troubles
All the troubles are behind her now.
Reaching new heights with every jump”.
Jumping the rope under the sun also gets you Vitamin D, which is again useful in improving mood by increasing serotonin levels in the brain and is also useful in burning fat.
Role of Relatives, Friends
What role does relatives / friends play in the healing of depression?
Answer by Dr JV Hebbar:
For love, care and support that the patient needs the most, friends and relatives have to become the wall of strength.
Though the patient might have made some mistakes or had been rude to you, but if you are called to the psychiatrist’s office and the doctor has explained that your friend/ relative is in depression, it is time to forget all bitter experiences and show him/her 100% love. Remember, if not treated correctly and if you do not show your love, he may end up in suicide.
Relatives also play a major role in
Stopping alcohol/ smoking / drugs
Helping the depression patient to sleep and wake up at right times,
to lend a shoulder when her tears start rolling
to take the medicines regularly,
to encourage in sports and hobby activities,
to keep a watch on her to avoid any suicide attempts,
to listen to his feelings and be totally understanding of his confusions and negative mindset etc.
A supportive relative / friend can do more than what the medicines and treatments can do to pull a patient out from depression.
If you know someone with depression, the least you can do is, be kind to her and do not take the matter lightly.