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Only a handful of individuals have the courage to discuss in public about their personal health problems. Last year, Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone admitted that she is suffering from depression. After that, the stigma and perception towards the illness started changing.

Health experts say that the number of people who come to them with depression related disorders have steeply increased.

Surveys have pointed out that India is one of the most depressed countries in the world and has highest number of suicide rates too. There are many among us who are depressed. Large number of people are now seeking professional assistance from ancient science-Ayurveda for depression.

When asked about the reason behind this, Ayurveda experts said that Ayurveda understands mind and body as a continuous existence. Other disciplines see the health problem and offer solution only to the problem alone. But, Ayurveda looks at addressing both- the illness and its root cause.

Some of the symptoms of depression are feeling bored and sad, not interested in anything, low energy levels, feeling deprived and lonely, insomnia or excessive sleeping, loss of appetite or overeating  etc.

In an interview to LifeView, Dr G G Gangadharan, Director, M S Ramaiah Indic Centre for Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine said “Depression is called as ‘Manoavasada’ in Ayurveda. It is a state of mind, where mind loses its communication with the body many a times. If one is suffering from depression, his mind will not work in its own natural state”.

When the body gets affected, the mind gets affected. And when the mind gets affected, the body also gets affected. It is vice-versa. Depression aggravates the condition of other diseases, he said.

Our mind is dominated with three gunas ‘rajas’ (passion, motion), ‘tamas’ (inertia, darkness) and ‘satva’ (light, bliss, goodness). One has to improve the ‘sattvic’ aspect of the mind. Because one gets into depression, when ‘tamas’ overrides ‘satva’ and ‘rajas’.

Explaining more on the Ayurvedic approach in treating depression, he said “We follow two pronged approach. We control the mind and also cleanse the body with purification treatments called as Panchakarma treatment”.

On how to improve the satvic nature, Dr Gangadharan said “Feeling oneness with the external nature and society. Developing compassion within us by auto-suggestions and by counselling. Pure cow’s ghee can improve the state of mind. It will help us to cross the brain barrier. Ghee can be medicated with ‘medha’ (intellect) increasing herbs like Shankapushpi and Brahmi”.

Deep breathing exercises like pranayama, will increase the supply of oxygen to all the tissues in the body. It will clear all the channels to the brain, he added.

Continuous stress arising out of problems is one of the main cause for depression. Toxins get accumulated in the body. It has to be removed out through cleansing processes. Undigested food too is a cause for depression, Dr Gangadharan said. Apart from these there are other social and intellectual reasons for the illness.

Gangadharan also pointed out that Ayurveda have no parallels in modern psychiatry. Ayurveda experts say that the reason behind more number of people knocking on the doors of Ayurveda for depression is that the treat rate in Ayurveda is very high compared to other disciplines.