Disease Info

Depression

This state is psychological disorder, which affect physiological functions of the body, is known to cause emotions of sadness, emptiness, irritability, anxiety, worthlessness etc. Depression affects the way people think, their behavior and physical well-being. Under depression people can get tendency to any addictions, like drug or alcohol addiction easily. This is a very common disorder, it is believed every 10th person over 40 years old has experienced some form of depression, majority of them is represented by women. Even children and teens in the age group of 10-16 can experience a depression, which is the first cause of teen's illnesses according to WHO data. While many think depression is a modern disease, which became known after the humankind entered the era of stress due to megapolis lifestyle, shortened periods of rest and sleep and increasing competition from a kindergarden to the career ladder, yet depression has been described by Hippocratus in Ancient Greece.

What causes depression?

It is difficult to separate one exact cause for this disorder, as there are multiple factors igniting the depression, be it psychological, environmental, genetic or biochemical. Medical conditions (hypothyroidism or prolonged chronic disease or pain such as in cancer) or medicine intake (hypertension medications and sedatives) can all trigger the depression development. Environmental factors such as staying in isolated place, deficiency of sunlight, social events such as divorce or a death of close people, relationships and community can all be named as depression causes.

What Ayurveda says about Depression

Ayurveda names two major causes for depression: either an imbalance of doshas or a lack of awareness of inner self. It is said in Ayurvedic texts that first Vata imbalance expressed in the erratic overreaction of the brain's electrochemistry destroys the normal course of enzymatic metabolism, which is already classified as Pitta imbalance. Kapha dosha then aggrevates, by overactivity of which the body gets stagnated and depressed. This state is then translated wrongly by the brain as depression and hopelessness. Even ancient greeks wrote that depression was always associated with constipation. This is because the aggrevation of Vata in the colon (where it exists) is felt by humans as constipation disorder, then nutritional absorbance in the intestine (Pitta's place) is destructed, which translates into indigestion in the stomach (Kappha), so that all physiological processes in ones body become sluggish. This affects among others the nervous system. Another cause for depression can be Pitta disorder, which is when allergies or other metabolic disorders will change the normal activity of chemical processes in the brain.

Types of depression

There are several types of depression with major depressive disorder and dysthymic depression being the most common. Major depressive disorder is characterized by a combination of symptoms, when a person undergoes social, behavioral, physiological disturbances preventing a normal lifestyle for a relatively short period. It is believed it can occur as one episode in one's life with possible reoccurrence. Dysthymia can stretch up to 2 years but with less severe symptoms, when a person might only not feel well. Usually it happens in line with a major depression. Adjustment disorder with depressed mood characterizes the state on mind and body of a person, who has undergone the major life-changing event, and it takes a loner than usual time to adjust with all symptoms of major depression. There are a number of other types, such as bipolar disorder, psychotic or postpartum disorder. All of them need medical treatment.

Symptoms of depression

Each type and individual case of depression is unique in its combination of symptoms, their severity, duration and regularity. These are most common symptoms in patients with depression:

  • Irritability, anxiety, restlessness.
  • Change of eating habits, resulting in major weight loss or gain.
  • Thoughts of suicide or attempts to suicide.
  • Sleeping disorders.
  • Aches and pains.
  • Indifference.
  • inactivity, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities.
  • Isolation from socium, friends, family.
  • Fatigue;.
  • Negative feelings and emotions (sadness, anger, discouragement, inappropriate guilt, pessimism, worthlessness etc.).

Usually if these symptoms persist for more than 2 weeks a person will be diagnosed as in depression. Many cases of depression coexist with major illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson's, diabetes.

How Ayurveda can treat depression?

Known in Ayurveda as Chittavsada, this disorder is treated in a gentle natural way rather than with chemical antidepressants, which cannot recur the initial dosha balance. It is very important element of Ayurvedic treatment not only to eliminate symptoms and rejuvenate the doshas but to increase the level of inner contentmens of a patient. Psychological councelling is one of the treatments used in Ayurveda to understand the root cause and find the most effective way to treat each individual case. The counselling is done by Ayuredic physician to increase the sattva of the mind. As always in Ayurvedic treatment one can start treatment with ayurvedic doctors and still take allopatic medications, making sure they will not interact with negative consequences. This is not necessary but psychologically is "safer" for many patients. Since the toxins are at the root cause of dosha imbalance any treatment will start with Panchakarma detoxification. Apart from medical procedures Ayurveda also finds relaxing Abhayangam, shirodhara and shirobasti very effective in depression cases. Yoga and meditation are also a part of Ayurvedic antidote to depression. Namely, such yoga asanas as bhujangasana, vakrasana, halasana, paschimottasana, sarvangasana, shalabhasana, shavasana can be used to eliminate negative emotions. Dietary recommendations will be given individually to each patient depending on his/her state of health and any other coexisting diseases alongside with the depression. But generally, heavy and processed food is not advisable, along with animal proteins and fats, heavy drinks like alcoholic or caffeine. Ayurvedic medications for depression can be prescribed after a thorough diagnosis by your Ayurvedic specialist.