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Depression
By  Dr P M Sharma

Depression, which has traditionally been viewed as a syndrome with an affective core accompanied by associated problems such as sleep, appetite, decreased concentration, loss of interest, fatigue, and suicidal behaviors, is by all means a living dysfunctional hell. That is until you get hold of something that pulls you, step-by-step, and cautiously so, out of it.

Ayurvedic Concept

This is a mansik vikar, where mann stands for psyche (and often represented as mind) and vikar an abnormality. Depression, known as mansik absad is one of many mansik vikars that afflict human beings. Mann is elaborated beautifully in this sholoka, an Ayurvedic hymn:

“Manyatu abbudhyati gyayate anen iti manati”

If transliterated, the sholoka means that mann is a virtual element in the body which feeds the soul thoughts, ideas, knowledge, wisdom, ego, and intelligence.

Depression could be sahaj, which means it could be by birth. Depression could also be agantuk or acquired. Acquired depression is further of vata, pitta and kapha type. Vata-type depression thus becomes vatic absad of which anxiety is the most common sign. In case of pittic absad, anger and obsession are the most important signs to distinguish, and in kaphaj (or sheeshmik) absad, suicidal tendencies, melancholia and constipation are the most common features.

Furthermore, acquired form of depression finds its causes in any loss, real or fantasized, that you may have suffered at an early stage of life, rejection from society, or excessive anger and frustration in life. If these causes are clubbed with a stressful lifestyle, the resultant repressed feelings may reactivate themselves in the form of mansik absad.

Management

Depression is manageable but may take some time before the ultimate fitness levels of the patient are achieved. It is best manageable by person-specific regimens of herbal combinations, dietary and lifestyle modifications. Patients should avoid relying on over-the-counter Ayurvedic products available on health shops or various websites.

A number of Ayurvedic combinations are used, the dosage and method of which is decided after analyzing the patient conditions. However, on a symptomatic level, or as an adjuvant to other therapies, products as brhami ghrit, saraswatadi churna and ashwagandharishta etc may be used. Panchakarma, yogasanas like shavasana, sheershasana etc are very helpful in minimizing, or in certain cases, completely curing the disease. Some Indian classical ragas have proved of immense help and worthy of appreciation by the modern scientific community.

Rajasic and tamasic foods are totally bad for depression patients, since these trigger negative thought processes in the mind. Best suited is the sattvic food, which comprises mainly of vegetables. Indiscriminate use of vegetables, however, is also not advised. A particular vegetable that may suit one depression patient may not be good for use by another. A lot depends on the dosha character and personal constitution of the patient.

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