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What is Depression and its Symptoms, Causes

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What is Depression and its Symptoms, Causes

Everybody feels sad or moody from time to time, but some people experience these kinds of feelings intensely, for too long periods with or without any apparent reason. Nowadays, depression is a cause of concern as it is affecting many people.

Depression is also known as Clinical Depression or Major Depressive Disorder in modern medical science. It is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in daily activities. The state of depression can lead to a variety of physical and mental problems like a person may have trouble in doing normal day-to-day activities and sometimes there are suicidal thoughts also crop up.

Some people may also feel miserable or unhappy without any reason.

Symptoms of Depression?

  • Feelings of hopelessness, sadness, or emptiness
  • Irritability or frustration, even on small issues
  • Disturbed sleep like sleeping too much or insomnia
  • Lack of energy
  • Feeling tired 
  • Taking too much time in completing even small tasks
  • Reduced appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Slowed thinking
  • Feelings of continuous guilt or self-blaming habit
  • Recurrent thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts
  • Suffering from unexplained physical problems

Symptoms of Depression in children and teenagers:

  • The symptoms of depression in younger children are characterized by irritability, sadness, being underweight, refusing to go to school, etc.
  • In teenagers, the symptoms include the feeling of being negative or worthless, poor performance, attendance issues in school, loss of interest in normal activities, avoidance of social interaction, and sleeping too much.

Symptoms of Depression in older adults:

The depression in older adults should not be taken lightly as it goes undiagnosed and untreated in older adults.

Some of the symptoms are:

  • Physical aches and pains
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Avoiding social gatherings
  • Sleep problems

What are the causes of Depression?

Emotional deprivation, adverse experiences in life, and medical illness also predispose to depression.

According to modern medicine, depression is linked with changes in brain chemistry. Certain hormones or neurotransmitters may have a role in causing depression. Depression may also run in families.

According to Ayurveda, mental health is one of the eight branches of holistic health. The science of Ayurveda gives importance to physical and mental health.

A person is said to have good health when there is: 

  • samdosha (balance of physical as well as psychological elements)
  • samagnischa (balance of energies produced in the body)
  • sama dhatu (balance of tissues in the organs)
  • mala kriya (proper elimination of wastes)
  • prasannatma (the soul is happy)
  • sama-indriya (proper functioning of the five senses)

So, Ayurveda has a holistic approach to the treatment of mental health issues like depression. Ayurveda also explores the relationship between the mind, body, senses, and soul.
According to Ayurveda, Sadhak Pitta and Tarpak Kapha are directly related to the mind. The imbalances of these doshas cause mental as well as emotional disturbances.
In Ayurvedic texts, it is stated that there are three types/types of the human mind.

These are:

  1. Sattvic
  2. Rajasic
  3. Tamasic

Diet and Lifestyle to strengthen these doshas are:

  • Ayurvedic Lifestyle: By following the Ayurvedic dinacharya (regimen) and ritucharya (seasonal health regime), it is possible to cope up with depression in a natural way. Ayurveda recommends traditional dietary and lifestyle habits, some yogic exercises, herbal and rejuvenation treatments to strengthen the capacity of the mind to achieve the sattvic nature of mind.
  • Meditation: Meditation is considered the best medicine for mental peace and good health. It helps in clearing the mental and emotional disturbances and keeps the person calm and relaxed.
  • Sesame Oil: 3-5 drops of sesame oil should be instilled in each nostril morning and evening or rubbing the top of the head and soles with sesame oil is also very beneficial.Avoid over-exertion both physically and mentally.
  • Panchkarma: Ayurvedic panchakarma treatments like Shirodhara also provide excellent results in the treatment of depression.

Some Ayurvedic herbs that are useful in the treatment of depression are:

  1. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera): Due to the presence of active compounds like steroidal lactones, alkaloids, withanolides, and saponins in ashwagandha, ashwagandha has anti-depressant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-anxiety properties.
    • These properties are useful in relieving stress caused by physical and emotional fatigue
    • This herb also balances the constant mood swings and also increases mental alertness, concentration and focus.
    • Ashwagandha also helps in restoring normal physiological functioning.
  2. Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri): Brahmi has been used for curing stress for ages.
    • It is an adaptogen which means that it helps the body to adapt the new stressful situations.
    • Brahmi helps in increasing the serotonin levels in the brain which helps in keeping the brain calm thus provides relief from anxiety, nervousness, and depression.
    • Brahmi is also useful for sound sleep.
  3. Shankhpushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis): Shankhpushpi also known as Shyamakanta is a perennial herb that is widely used for the treatment of various disorders.
    • Due to the anti-depressant property of shankhpushpi, it is quite useful to calm down the brain and useful in managing depression.
    • Due to its Medhya property, it is useful in improving intelligence. Shankhpushpi powder can be taken with warm milk to boost memory and concentration.
    • This herb is also useful in getting good sleep, relieves anxiety and depression.
    • It is also considered anti-aging and improves life longevity.
  4.  Vacha (Acorus calamus): Vacha commonly known as a sweet flag is being used medicinally in the Ayurvedic tradition for its various properties such as analgesic, anti-depressant, antipyretic, tonic, anti-obesity, and healing purposes.
    • This herb has Vata balancing and media properties as well. It provides the body with sufficient strength to control all sorts of nerve-related disorders.
    • It improves memory, speech, and intelligence as well.
  5. Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi): Jatamansi is a famous Ayurvedic herb useful for the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders.
    • It is a Medhya herb therefore it improves brain functions.
    • Jatamansi acts as a brain tonic and improves memory by preventing cell damage due to its antioxidant property.
    • It calms down the brain and manages anxiety and insomnia associated with depression.

Thus, Ayurvedic treatment for depression works at a very deep and subtle level and it is safe, effective, and free from side effects.

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