In 2017, a study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that India held around 57 million individuals considered to have depression, thereby declaring India “the most depressed nation”. In the same year, President Ram Nath Kovind warned of a potential “mental health epidemic” in India. Though the number of people suffering from depression is significantly high, such issues are often stigmatized and looked down upon.

Although severe depression cases may need medical help, not many people are aware of the fact that the ancient medicinal science of India, Ayurveda, holds the secret to cure depression in the most natural way. Depression can be a result of a number of physiological and environmental factors. Excessive mental and physical stress can also trigger depression. In most cases, depression is often accompanied by anxiety and can be a result of factors such as poor diet, weak digestion and metabolism, a hectic lifestyle, and numerous environmental factors. All of these contributors can result in an accumulation of impurities and imbalances that interfere with the body’s natural biological rhythms.

Ayurveda recommends a few ways of countering depression by treating the causes in the form of Yoga, intake of organic herbs and therapies.

Yoga is a physical exercise that involves different body poses, breathing techniques, and meditation. The therapy may help with depression and its symptoms, such as difficulty concentrating or loss of energy. Yoga increases Serotonin levels in the body. Serotonin is the hormone, which is believed to play a major role in happiness. Yoga also increases the heart rate variability (HRV), or changes in time between heartbeats, by increasing the relaxation response over the stress response in the body. A high HRV means that the body is better at self-monitoring or adapting, particularly to stress.

Apart from exercising, Ayurveda also recommends the intake of herbs such as Ashwagandha, Brahmi, Jatamansi, Pudina and Maca. These are a few herbs, which are known to help reduce and cure symptoms of depression. For example, Ashwagandha is believed to relieve stress and anxiety due to the presence of active compounds like steroidal lactones, saponins, alkaloids and withanolides that provide antidepressant, anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety properties. These properties help in reducing stress caused by emotional and physical fatigue. Similarly, Brahmi is known to increase Serotonin levels, Jatamansi gives a therapeutic effect to mood swings, Pudina cures insomnia by keeping the mind calm and Maca is a natural healer that helps with hormone and neurotransmitter production due to the presence of adaptogen.

Ayurvedic massages are famous around the globe for its therapeutic results. Done with herbal oils, these messages can be beneficial for calming down and relaxing the mind. An experienced Ayurvedic masseuse is trained to undertake these massage therapies with utmost precision. Therapies like shirodhara and shirovasti also work amazingly for the
person suffering from depression. Besides, some specialized full body massage therapies increase blood circulation to remove metabolic wastes and toxins from the body. It stimulates vital pressure points, which leads to nervous stimulation and reduction in Stress, Anxiety, and Depression. Targeted foot messages can help treat psychological disorders such as nervousness, anxiety, and insomnia and prevents depression. It also prevents muscle cramps, boosts fertility, and reduces swelling and pain in the lower leg region.

To conclude, Ayurveda has been used for centuries to deal with mental and physical illness. Anyone who is suffering from depression must come to the forefront and seek help. Turning back to nature for answers to our problems will only help us lead a balanced and harmonious life.

(Inputs given by Anu Jaiswal, Founder, Vedic Sutra Wellness Center)