Fight Depression With Yoga And Ayurveda
Our social behavior is such that we tend to ignore anyone when they say they need mental rest or support instead of advice. We tend to exaggerate our own problems but we are not willing to listen to the issues faced by others. This kind of behavior is more common in societies where women are not treated equal to men, and women’s independence is still an unrealistic dream. This kind of social response to one’s problems makes depression a thing that is not acknowledged even if it is clearly apparent in an individual.
Depression cannot be called ‘just a disorder’ because it is a prolonged condition consisting of many other conditions that adversely affect the energy and enthusiasm of an individual, and brings about undesirable changes in almost every sphere of their life. It can be collectively said about each individual going through depression that their mood keeps changing from extreme lows to moderate highs. Still the overall mental state of such people is usually overpowered by sadness and grief that lies in the background of all thought processes and behavior going on. Incidents that trigger mental stress and tension are especially responsible for bringing about depression in people’s lives. Depression is a long-term condition and not an episodic one. It worsens when it is not acknowledged, because it is easy for mental conditions to go unnoticed or ignored in the initial or even later stages especially when the person having it doesn’t have friends or family that could share and ease their mental stressors.
Symptoms of Depression
Symptoms of a physical disorder can be easily told and noticed. But those of mental conditions may or may not be apparent. Therefore, the following behavioral signs should not be ignored:
- Anxiety and chronic stress is both a cause and a symptom
- The person is constantly in a bad mood even if they fake cheering up
- A changed pattern of daily activities
- The person intentionally keeps their sleep and wake timings opposite to the society/ family so that they can avoid communication
- The person avoids mending their routine and sleep-wake timings
- The person avoids gatherings and family functions
- The person feels worthless about themselves
- The person has a feeling of guilt for everything going bad
- The person cannot realize that they are over thinking
- The person cannot make important decisions on their own
- The person cannot understand and think clearly
- A general lack of enthusiasm is shown by the individual
- One’s eating habits have changed without them realizing it
- Suicidal thoughts are often in their mind
- They avoid the company of those they once looked forward to
- They are avoiding conversations and feel confronted
- They lack positivity towards anything
- Extreme mood swings in females, which worsen during menstrual cycle changes
- Alcoholism which has turned into addiction
- Inclination towards drug consumption and injection
- The person can become suddenly annoyed and aggressive
- They are performing poorly at work or at school
Causes And Risk Factors
Numerous factors contribute to the development of any condition in an individual. Those factors could originate from one’s lifestyle or routine, or even be triggered by other’s behavior towards them. Some factors decide the severity and susceptibility of a condition affecting a particular individual. On this basis we see causes of a disease as lifestyle factors, environmental factors or risk factors.
- Over thinking
- Negative thoughts
- Major change in life such as having a baby
- Criticism from society
- Lack of self acceptance
- Lack of self confidence
- Over Consciousness
- Lack of motivation in life
- Loss of loved one
- Emotional insecurities
- Loss of job
- Financial insecurities
- Certain medications that worsen brain health
- Broken marriages
Modern treatment of all mental disorders includes antidepressant drugs that are used to improve symptoms but they never subside completely, and they recur and worsen in most cases, especially if the person quits or reduces medication. Such medications are powerful and can have severe side effects such as unintended weight loss, nausea, disturbed bowels, abnormal blood glucose levels, and most importantly, and poor reproductive health to name a few. Therefore it is recommended that such individuals be enrolled in a programme that has no side effects.
Ayurvedic Remedies For Depression
Certain ayurvedic herbs have a special effect on the nervous system. They can effectively reduce symptoms of depression by strengthening the brain and easing the intensity of nerve responses and thought processes. A few of such herbs are:
- Ashwagandha : botanically known as Withania somnifera, Ashwagandha has countless benefits, the most desirable one being that it counteracts stress. It recovers mental health and induces a state of happiness and satisfaction.
- Brahmi : botanically known as Bacopa monnieri, Brahmi is an essential ingredient of all brain tonics because it nourishes brain cells and promotes nervous function. It is known to protect brain cells from damage and degeneration.
- Shankhpushpi : this herb known as Convolvulus prostrates has a special property to restore the lost balance in mental energy. It is full of antioxidants that reduce mental stress and thus depression. It also helps prevent loss of memory.
- Turmeric : it may surprise readers to see turmeric in this list, but turmeric or Curcuma longa is actually the most versatile herb with benefits for each system of the body. Turmeric protects nerve cells from damage and blockage.
- Gotu Kola : botanically named Centella asiatica, gotu kola is especially beneficial for managing stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia and mental tiredness.
- Guggulu : also known as Commiphora wightii, guggulu is a key ingredient in many formulations prescribed for stress. It also prevents age-related degeneration of brain cells.
Yoga For Managing Depression
Yoga is a safe set of practices that benefit not just the physical but also the mental health of an individual in many ways. The following practices are recommended for people with any symptoms of depression:
- Anuloma Viloma Pranayama : alternate nostril breathing: It is an easy but effective pranayama. It is an excellent practice to prepare for the next practice. It should preferably be performed outdoors.
- Bhramari Pranayama : the humming bee practice: it improves the overall functioning of the nervous system.
- Shavasana : the corpse pose: recommended after asana practice, this pose is used to multiply the benefits of all practices. It is a relaxation exercise. It can be performed on a mat or on the bed. Shavasana should be followed by meditation.
- Meditation : meditation is extremely beneficial and healing for everyone. It can treat depression magically by balancing activity of the cerebral hemispheres and inducing a state of everlasting calmness. Care should be taken to practice all the above techniques under the supervision and guidance of a competent yoga therapist, because depression is not a physical disorder that can just get away with all practices safely. During meditation, the brain levels are unlocked, which can make unpleasant events and memories intense in practitioners, even those with mild depression.
Adapting a lifestyle that cuts out the physical factors contributing to worsening of any condition multiplies the benefits of a yoga routine by several times. The following tips are extremely beneficial for everyone with any or all symptoms of a disorder relating to the mind.
- Communicate more often with your friends, family or strangers.
- Eat a balanced diet containing all nutrients.
- Sip on natural teas such as lavender, chamomile and Tulsi.
- Consume fresh foods and avoid stale ones.
- Include fruits, nuts and seeds in your diet.
- Pick up new hobbies.
- Learn foreign languages.
- Serve at an old age home.
- Offer voluntary service at an animal shelter if you like animals.
ConclusionDepression can be managed well if it is recognized in its early stages by behavioral changes, such as when an otherwise talkative and extroverted person starts avoiding socialization all of a sudden. It should be noted that the person who is getting depressed isn’t able to communicate about his problems. It becomes the duty of the people around such a person to take care of them and note all behavioral changes. Mental health should be taken more seriously so that no person is hesitant to share their problems and speak up to ask for help and support. The practices and remedies described here are generally safe for everyone. However, pregnant women and people with multiple conditions should seek guidance from a competent yoga therapist so that they can benefit from meditation.
Dr. Meenakshi Chauhan
MD (ALT. MEDICINE) View Profile