Depression or Avsaad:
Depression or ‘Avsaad’ (in Hindi) is the most common but serious type of emotional disorders. It is a state of low mood that affects a person’s physical and mental health. Depression may vary from feelings of slight sadness to utter grief and dejection. It is the most unpleasant experience a person can bear that becomes very difficult to handle. Depression can negatively affect a person’s life. It disturbs his physical as well as mental health completely.
The diagnosis of depression is generally based on the person’s reported experience. However, there is no laboratory test for it. It is characterized by the presence of a severely depressed or low mood that persists for at least two weeks and above. Actually, depression is different from normal sadness. Normal sadness is normal part of life and is less severe whereas sadness due to depression is more severe.
Though, depression can be occurred in any age but there has been a significant increase in old age. Moreover, it is serious in elderly patients and is with apathy or agitation. Elderly patients usually have thoughts of confusion about their physical illness, poverty and uselessness. In addition, they also have feelings of self-hatred, helplessness, and disappointment. In some instances, people may suffer with anxiety too. Suicide is the another risk common in both the types. As a matter of fact, more people above 60 make successful suicide attempts than at any other stage of life. Their talk of suicide should therefore, be taken seriously by their family members.
Feeling sad or having dark thoughts does not necessarily mean depression. On the contrary, it is something different from a temporary change in mood. Actually, it is a disorder associated with the feeling of increased sadness, hopelessness and anxiety. This sadness persists over a period of weeks and disturbs the daily life of a person affected. If there is no medical treatment at any given time, then this disorder can cause various consequences. Correspondingly, patients, who suffer from depression, exhibit suicidal tendencies for a large degree.
The most prominent symptoms of depression are feelings of acute sense of loss and inexplicable sadness, loss of energy and loss of interest. This feeling of sadness is intense and constant (almost everyday); it can even occur without any genuine reason. In addition, the patient feels tired and sick all the time. The patient may have negative, unrealistic feelings of guilt and shows lack of interest in the everyday activities.
Some important physical symptoms of ‘avsaad’ are sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, fatigue and constipation. In addition, headaches, giddiness, agitation, and muscles pain may also be there. Likewise, major emotional symptoms of depressive disorder are constant pessimism, withdrawal from socializing and irritability. The patient may have lack of interest in hobbies and other things. Furthermore, low body temperature, low blood pressure, hot flushes and shivering may be seen in cases of severe depression.
There are many possible causes of depression or avsaad. However, it is believed to be a combination of genetic, environmental and psychological factors. Lack of adrenal glands functioning is one of the major causes of the mental depression. In addition to, faulty mood regulation by the brain, stressful life events and family history can also cause ‘avsaad’. It may also occur due to chronic health problems and certain medications.
Depleted functioning of the adrenal glands is an important cause of the depression. Irregular diet habits causes digestive problems and lead to the assimilation of fats. Similarly, faulty diet plan like- excess of carbohydrates and less vegetables and fruits- may result in indigestion. This leads to formation of gases in the digestive tract and causing compression over the diaphragm. It raises the carbon dioxide level that may result in depression.
In the same way, drugs can also cause a person to get depressed. The excessive and indiscriminate use of drugs may lead to faulty absorption of vitamins and minerals by the body. Similarly, excessive intake of fats (from the use of refined processed foods) may also lead to depression.
Natural Treatment of Depression:
Depression (avsaad) is a curable disease. There are two common methods of its treatment – Counselling and Antidepressant medication’. Though use of antidepressant medication may provide fast relief but that may be temporary. Antidepressant drugs are also harmful for health; it removes symptoms only, not the causes. Researches show that most of the drugs, including the common antidepressants lead to side effects. (1) It may cause liver damage, headache, dizziness, constipation, fall in blood pressure and blurred vision. However, depression can be treated naturally by following a proper diet plan, physical exercise, relaxation and meditation.
1. Dietary Changes for Depression:
Diet plays a vital role not only for physical health but also for the mental health of a person. Lack of nutrition is an important feature of the diets of patients suffering from mental disorders like- depression. It is also proved from many studies. Deficiency of the nutrients, especially vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids can cause depression in susceptible people.
Recent research shows that low level of serotonin (a type of hormone) contributes to depression. In addition, there is a link between low level of serotonin and suicide. (1)
Hence, the main focus should be on dietary changes while treating depression. In other words, the patient should include anti depression foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, vitamins B and D, A, C, and E in his daily diet.
Moreover, studies proved that some foods affect the production of chemicals; these chemicals are directly involved in determining mood as well as mental energy, performance and behavior. Serotonin and nor-epinephrine are two types of brain chemicals which affect mood. These chemicals are often lacking in depressed people. However, there are some foods that help to boost the level of ‘Serotonin’. Hence, these anti depression foods should be included in daily diet of the patient. These are –
Foods to eat-
- Bananas (kela)
- Walnuts or Akhrot
- Cashew nuts or kaju
- Apples or Sev
- Dark Chocolates
- Pumpkin seeds or Kaddu ke beej
2. Activity and Exercise for Depression:
Second important part of the treatment of depression is ‘Physical Exercise’. Exercise can change depressive mood. It also helps to reduce stress and anxiety. Studies prove that more physically active people have greater feelings of excitement and enthusiasm in comparison to less-active people. Exercise releases ‘Endorphins’- that acts as a natural anti-depressant. Actually, ‘Endorphins’ is a type of feel good chemical that helps in regulating depressive mood. These endorphins interact with the receptors in the brain that reduce perception of pain. According to Neurosciences, exercise supports nerve cell growth in the ‘hippo campus’. Hippo campus is a major component of the brain region (called ) that is thought to be help in relieving depression.
Exercise is nature’s best tranquilizer to reduce stress and anxiety. Regular exercise can boost your mood if you have depression, and it’s especially useful for people with mild to moderate depression. The patient can do any type of exercise that suits him. Therefore, some type of exercise must be undertaken daily. Yogic asanas and meditation are more effective in elevating depressive mood. The patient should perform following asanas with adequate rest, relaxation and meditation daily –
According to Dr. Michael Craig Miller, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, ‘exercise is an effective treatment for depression, but only for mild to moderate. It is not effective in case of severe depression.’ Therefore in case of severe depression, it is better to consult specialist.
3. Supplements for Avsaad:
Depression (avsaad) is a mood disorder in which people experience feelings of sadness, loneliness, and loss of interest for long periods of time. Some supplements are effective in elevating depressive mood. As per results of researches, levels of vitamins, magnesium and serotonin go down in maximum cases. Therefore, use of natural supplements can help to reduce its symptoms naturally. Though, there are not very strong opinions about it but use of supplements certainly helps to overcome the problem of depressive mood. Because, you do not get essential substances from foods in sufficient quantities.
Some of the important supplements that help to overcome ‘avsaad’ are-
1.Folic Acid & Vitamin B
2. Vitamin D
3. Vitamin E & K
5. SAMe- S-adenosylmethionine
6. GABA- Gamma-aminobutyric acid
7. Tryptophan- An amino acid
4. Herbs for Avsaad:
Herbs are natural mood elevator. Though, there are a number of approved (by FDA) drugs and medicines for the treatment of depression but herbs are also good. Some herbs are in use for centuries as folk medicine of ‘Avsaad’. These herbs work amazingly as mood booster and are easily available in market for people who are facing this problem. If you are facing depression and don’t want to take any medicine, you can opt for herbs.
Although, these herbs help to overcome depression effectively, but only mild to moderate. In case of severe problem, it is better to consult specialist. Some common herbs are-
2. Saffron (kesar)
3. Ashwagandha or (Withania somnifera)
4. Brahmi ((Bacopa monnieri)
5. Lavender oil
8. Garlic (Lahsun)
9. Onion (Pyaj)
10. Oregano (Ajwain ki patti)
11. St.John’s wort- A yellow-flowered plant