Allopathic medicine tackles the symptoms of depression with medication and therapy. Ayurveda uses a different approach.
Ayurveda seeks first to understand the body’s imbalances in the bioenergies also known as an dosha and then prescribe a course of treatment that will rebalance the individual eliminating the depression in the process. Ayurvedic treatments offer great benefits because they bring wellness to all the systems of the body, which means that the health benefits are more than relief of symptoms.
According to Dr. David Simon, co-Founder of the Chopra Center in California and world renowned mind-body expert, depression is usually the result of old unresolved emotional problems that have not been addressed often from childhood. Other Ayurvedic practitioners would agree. Andrea Emmerich at the California College of Ayurveda wrote a paper: Ayurveda and Depression in 2004, which details the various ways that depression can occur in the doshas. Andrea advises that depression can occur from an event called a reactive depression or arise spontaneously in what she calls endogenous depression. Ayurveda considers both types of depression the result of disturbed doshas. When the doshas are out of balance they can create the foundation for a future depression.
Ayurveda And Depression in Vata Dosha
Vata is the most important dosha of the human system. It represents movement and prana which is the life force and according to Andrea Emmerich also represents the will to live. When a person is depressed their prana is suppressed. Depression is more than simply bad moods, or temporary sluggishness. Depression, in a way, is an injury to the life force of an individual.
Although the depression can and frequently will have lifestyle issues as an element of the problem, more often than not the biggest reason will come from emotional issues, related to abuse of some sort. Vata depression is created by experiences that induce fear, terror, and anxiety, irregular habits in eating, working and health habits including sleep, all forms of excessive movement – like constant travel. Processed food choices and the use of drugs can also create a vata depression. When an individual has a vata depression, they come across as very ungrounded. They have severe emotional fear reactions, are very restless, have trouble focusing, and often have insomnia.
Vata depression creates very erratic thinking and behaving. Stability to the person suffering the vata depression needs to be restored to have them come back into balance. Brahmi in tea and other forms – herbal, ghee (clarified butter) and oil massage helps vata depression. Ashwaghanda is also useful for its beneficial effects on the brain. Creating a healthy stabilizing daily routine with a diet of organic food can be calming as well.
Ayurveda And Depression in Pitta Dosha
Pitta is the dosha associated with metabolism of all things: food, emotions, and experiences. When experiences cannot be digested they can accumulate in the body and cause dosha disturbances. Pitta people suffer from verbal and physical abuse, which if unresolved in childhood can fester and contribute to future depression. Abuse is often a form of rejection and rejection is painful to a child. If that abuse is recurring and chronic, there may not be a way for the child to heal in childhood, and the healing needs are then brought forward into adulthood. According to Andrea Emmeril, alcohol, verbal abuse, excessive white sugar, and overwork and over ambition will create pitta depression which manifests as anger and violence. It is worth noting that people suffering from a pitta depression may commit suicide or what is called slow suicide by engaging in self destructive habits. Brahmi also helps a pitta depression.
Ayurveda And Depression in Kapha Dosha
Kapha is the dosha of tissues and lubrication. Kapha is the slowest of the doshas and needs stimulus to be in balance. Too much sluggish and lethargic living as well as too much sleep will bring on a kapha depression. Kapha depressions can occur in families where food is used to stuff feelings. Individuals with a kapha depression may have eating disorders and obesity. The herbs triphala and trikatu are useful for this depression along with a good amount of exercise.