The World Health Organization states that, "Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." This definition is similar to the Ayurvedic definition of health, which emphasizes the importance of a healthy mind and spirit as well as the body and senses. Depression is a common disorder that affects one out of every six US adults at some point in their life (1).
Ayurveda refers to depression as Mano Visada, which is a disorder that affects a person’s thoughts, feelings, behaviors and physical health. Ayurveda does not separate physical disorders from mental disorders. The Sanskrit word Ayus, means life, which consists of the mind, body, spirit and senses. Therefore, Ayurveda looks at all these aspects as factors which affect a person’s state of mind.
With Mano Visada, the predominant dosha of the mind is tamas which has qualities of heavy, dull and slow. If a person’s mind is tamas, they will be unmotivated, tired, inactive and may even have difficulty processing thoughts clearly.
With some people the mind becomes tamas after experiencing a rajas mind state. Rajas is the exact opposite of tamas, and has qualities of constant motion, over thinking and being overactive. People with overactive minds are anxious, restless and talk a lot. They become exhausted and then the mind becomes tamas. This is how or why some people cycle between anxiety and depression.
Another aspect of the mind is sattva bala or mental strength. A person with a high sensitivity level can have a propensity toward tamas because they are triggered easily by life’s difficulties. A person with strong mental strength is more resilient to life’s difficulties and tends to bounce back easier. Ayurveda encourages people to practice resilience by developing patience, understanding, and courage.
Mano Visada is associated with kapha disorders but can also be due to aggravated vata. A tamas state of mind is an example of vata blocking kapha, this is called avarana vata. Symptoms of aggravated vata in the mind are decreased energy, irregular appetite, poor concentration, and anxiety that leads to depression, difficulty sleeping and generalized pain. Aggravated vata leads to the depletion of ojas which is our bodies vitality, immunity, resilience and stability. Aggravated kapha in the mind will present with symptoms of apathy, sluggishness, excessive sleep and weight gain.
Improving digestive strength is the first step toward balancing the doshas back to a normal state. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for mood, cognition, reward, learning, and memory. Ninety-five percent of serotonins are produced by friendly bacteria in the gut. Serotonins modulate mood and create feelings of reward, while the stress reaction destroys the friendly bacteria. This can become a vicious cycle, where one negative aspect feeds another. Medical studies show that many GI disorders are accompanied by depression as a secondary disorder.
There is a saying “you are what you eat.” From an Ayurvedic perspective this also includes what we ingest through our sensory organs. We ingest what we see, hear, taste and touch. Our sensory organs connect us to the world and determines how we see, experience and react to what is happening around us.
Overusing, underusing, and misusing the senses can lead to tamas state of mind. For instance, we live in a time of media overload from computers, social media, news, and constant texts or emails. The sense organs become overloaded, and the mind becomes overloaded by non-stop information. At first the mind becomes hyperactive then exhausted by all the stimulation. The person’s perception and thought process is distorted by information overload. Similarly, physical trauma or excessive physical activity can also cause a tamas state of mind.
Ayurveda recognizes two types of tamas state of mind: A purely vata type and a vata-kapha type. Regardless of which type, both are due to a predominance of tamas and vata. A successful Ayurvedic protocol will consider which type of depression is present as there are separate protocols for each one.
Vataja Mano Visada has signs and symptoms of insomnia, weight loss, irregular appetite, overactive mind, difficulty focusing, general aches and pain. Vataja type will cycle between anxiety and depression.
Vata-Kaphaja Mano Visada has signs and symptoms loss of interest in normal activities, excessive fatigue, weight gain, feeling hopeless, stomach cramps, nausea and isolation.
An Ayurvedic health plan manages the four aspects of mind, body, spirit, and senses.
Foods need to be warm, moist, light and easy to digest, this will pacify both vata and kapha, and encourage proper elimination. If the digestive strength is low because there is excess kapha, then warming spices will be needed to stimulate and strengthen the digestive strength.
Eat a vata-kapha warming diet of soups and stews. If there is excess vata aggravation with depletion then choose winter vegetables over summer vegetables. Choose carrots, green beans, beets, winter squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and ash gourd. Grains such as basmati rice, red rice, wheat flatbread, and barley will support both vata and kapha. Use warming spices like cumin, cinnamon, hing, ginger and black pepper. At the end of the day enjoy a warm beverage with boiled milk, ashwagandha powder and cinnamon to encourage sound sleep.
Limit foods that increase vata like broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, leafy greens, raw apples, and old foods that are processed, frozen or leftover. Avoid sticky dense foods, like yogurt, cheese, nut butters and chocolate that increase kapha. Most importantly avoid alcohol and caffeine.
Kottakkal is committed to offering the highest quality Ayurvedic Healthcare. We offer two ways to have an Ayurvedic consultation. 1. Free 15-minute Consultation with our Ayurvedic practitioner, Julie Wardwell, for when you need a product recommendation for a basic health problem. 2. In-depth Consultation with our Ayurvedic doctor, Vaidya Vishwanath Guddadar for when your condition is chronic with multiple symptoms.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Kottakkal Ayurveda products and information are not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. If you have serious, acute, or chronic health problems, please consult a trained health professional. If you are seeking the advice of a trained Ayurvedic professional, call (800) 215-9934 or email us at email@example.com. We will provide you with information to consult with Ayurvedic professionals. Always check with your doctor before taking herbs when pregnant or nursing.
Jwara is a Sanskrit word for fever and according to Ayurveda it is considered the "king of all illnesses". This is because Jwara affects not just the body but also the mind and senses. Ayurveda understands jwara as not only an increase in body temperature but is also a feeling of malaise, unease, and discomfort, and involves the deha (body), indriya (senses), and mana (mind).
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) the incidence of high blood pressure in the US in 2021 contributed towards 691,095 deaths. And one third of US adults have high blood pressure at approximately 119.9 million. High blood pressure is defined as systolic blood pressure greater than 130 mmHg or a diastolic blood pressure greater than 80 mmHg.