If you are looking for Ayurvedic treatment for depression there are several things that you need to understand so you can decide if it is right for you.
Ayurvedic Medicine is really a misnomer, what it is really considered is Ayurveda Practice. It is a traditional holistic approach to well-being that looks to restore balance to the person as the means of curing the illness.
An illness, such as depression, is considered to be a symptom of systemic imbalance.
While there are 2 schools of Ayurveda that are focused on surgery, the other 6 schools focus on a systemic balance approach that may use nutrition, relaxation, movement and other techniques to realign the systems and processes in the body.
It is important to note that practitioners don’t invalidate medical or scientific findings related to chemical changes or illness in the body; but they view them of the outcome of the cause of imbalance.
To understand the definition of depression you have to know that there are two types of depression, and within those types there are multiple specific diagnoses. They are major clinical depression and cyclical depressions.
Both involve a change to the neurochemistry in the brain that regulates how hormones and neurochemicals (such as dopamine) are generated and used by the brain to help relief stress and promote healthy brain function.
When someone has major clinical depression, there is a change in the natural system of the brain that prevents these chemicals from being used the way they should that occurs on a daily and ongoing basis.
With cyclical depression, there are cycles of interruption to the way these chemicals work.
The role of medications
Depression is treated with the use of prescription medications to help restore the chemical balance in the brain by either promoting more chemical production, or blocking excess levels from affecting the brain.
All depression medications are designed to be used as a temporary method to relieve depression while life style changes are put in place.
Unfortunately, Western Medicine doesn’t have a supporting treatment system that allows people to learn these changes well; so many people stay on antidepressants for life.
This is why Ayurvedic treatment for depression can be a key component to recovery from, or management of depression.
How the Ayurvedic Practitioner diagnoses depression
An Ayurvedic Practitioner isn’t going to do brain chemical tests to diagnose depression; they are going to look at the three systemic functions of the body – Pitta, Vata and Kalpha and assess which has been interrupted and work to strengthen the system to allow for the body to create its own correction method.
- Pitta is focused on the energies associated with digestion and hormone chemical levels in the body and brain. People who tend to gain weight or are more pear or apple shaped are thought to have a high Pitta.
- Vata governs energy of movement. It is typically associated with those who tend to be thing.
- Kalpha is focused on the energy of strength and growth. This includes the immune system. People with strong, muscular frames are seen as being Kalpha.
The practitioner weighs the balance between the inclination of the person’s natural state, and the appearance of the depression symptoms that are changing it.
For example, if someone is naturally thin or muscular, but depression is showing itself through lethargy and weight gain it is thought that it is a Pitta depression.
The approach for each requires a balance of strengthening the predominant state through relieving the intruding one.
Dealing with Pitta depression
As with almost all of the states, the first thing that an Ayurvedic treatment for depression is going to focus on is diet.
This is especially important for those with a natural Pitta state as their bodies and minds will react quickly to nutrition levels.
There will also be various strategies of movement and massage incorporated, but they will focus mainly on strengthening the digestive system.
There are many times in which specific yoga postures will be prescribed to do this.
Dealing with Vata depression
With a Vata depression, the person will be treated with dietary and supplemental measures, but the main focus will be on rejuvenating them through movement and breathing techniques.
A person who is Vata will respond very negatively to sedentary states. For this reason, more fluid and moving yoga and breathing postures will be incorporated.
Dealing with Kalpha depression
Those who are Kalpha will again have their dietary needs addressed first, and then a steady program of exercise, movement and relaxation techniques that are meant to promote muscular health will be used.
As with all of the states, the practitioner may recommend the use of supplements and Ayurvedic medicines as well.
How effective is Ayurvedic treatment for depression?
Ayurvedic treatment for depression is considered most effective when used as a complementary treatment alongside western medicine.
While no studies have shown that it is effective by itself, many studies have shown that changes in diet, the practice of relaxation techniques and movement all benefit those with major clinical depressions.
Some studies have even shown that the techniques promoted as Ayurvedic treatment for depression may be most effective as a preventative.
As with all treatments, it takes a balance of methods to achieve health.
Are there any cautions?
There has been some concern over metals, toxins and contaminants in Ayurvedic medicine, new regulations have made them more reliable. In Ayurvedic treatment for depression, while traditional medicines may be used the emphasis is going to be more on diet, movement and methods of relaxation.
You should never stop taking a medication for your depression just because you are using Ayurvedic methods, but you should let your prescribing doctor know that you are using a complementary treatment.
This way they can monitor your progress and begin to reduce dosage amounts as are appropriate with your improvement.
You should also inform your physical doctor of your plans to incorporate an Ayurvedic treatment for depression as they may need to give you guidelines for what you can and cannot do physically.