Ayurveda: Combating Depression Holistically

Termed as Vishada by Ayurveda, depression is known to affect significant percentage of the population. While it has a psychological connotation, it can affect practically the entire physical, mental and social well being of an individual. Largely precipitated by major life changes such as financial loss, bereavement, separation from a loved one, chronic health condition, stresses of diverse kinds, including those related to academics and career, it can afflict all age groups, irrespective of class, gender or financial status. Depression can manifest as depressed mood, sadness, anxiety, desolation, diminished interest in almost all activities, loss of appetite, significant weight change, low self-esteem, feeling of guilt and worthlessness, problem in concentrating and decision-making, either sleeping less or oversleeping, social withdrawal, recurrent thoughts of death or suicide etc.
Well balanced diet and regimen, daily meditation, following the ethical code of conduct prescribed by Ayurveda (Achara Rasayanam), going to bed early and getting up early, indulging in activities that produces relaxation, maintenance of social etiquette etc  has been stressed upon by Ayurveda for maintenance of psychological well being . Purificatory therapy in the form of Panchakarma helps in stabilizing the Doshas in the body which helps in a state of mental equilibrium. Specific therapy to combat depression includes a combination of various external therapies like Abhyangam (oil massage), Shirodhara (streaming of medicated oil over forehead) with suitable Sattvavajaya Chikitsa (psychological rehabilitation) in the form of counseling, control of sense organs through meditation etc. and administration of medicines suitable to each person. Shirodhara, is deeply relaxing while ensuring a dynamic psychosomatic balance. It is regarded as a powerful treatment to relieve Vata in the mind and is, thus, beneficial for stress-related disorders. Massage of medicated oil is effective in bringing down the vitiated Vata Dosha and helps in reliving anxiety and stress. Mental health is a major aspect of health and a good mind dwells only in a healthy body.