Ayurvedic treatment for Anxiety

Anxiety

Know More on Psychiatry/Mental diseases

  • Definition
  • Causes
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis
  • Management
  • FAQS
  • References

Definition

Anxiety Ayurvedic treatment

WHAT IS ANXIETY?

In general, anxiety refers to a feeling of unease, that can be worry or fear, and it may be mild or severe. While most people tend to have some uneasiness or anxiety at different points in life, if these feelings become more constant and start affecting day to day life, it can lead to a serious disorder.1

Anxiety is generally a symptom of many conditions like fear, stress and other conditions. A condition called generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a term given when there is no cause determined for anxiety.1

In Ayurveda classics, anxiety is described as a symptom Chittodwega (restlessness of mind). It is further classified under a heading of mental disorders called ‘Unmada’.2

As per Ayurveda, inappropriate dietary habits such as Adhvashana (Improper foods) and Vishamashana (Opposing foods) may cause Vishada (Mental lethargy) resulting out of Pragya-paradha (mistakes of the intellect/mind).2

These mistakes are referred to as - lack of self-control over eating and greediness in food habits. Conditions of the mind such as Duhkha (Despair) - that is produced due to loss of beloved one or any financial or social loss; Bhaya (fear), Irshya (jealousy), Dainya (timidity), Lobha (greed), Chinta (worry), Krodha (anger) may lead to Vishada (Mental lethargy).2

Causes

Anxiety

ANXIETY CAUSES

The exact cause of generalized anxiety isn't fully understood but there are a combination of several factors involved. These may be:1

  • An over activity in some areas of brain
  • An imbalance of the neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) that control mood
  • Hereditary
  • Past history of any traumatic experience
  • Lon term diseases, such as arthritis
  • Drug or alcohol misuse

However, some people can have anxiety for no apparent reason

Symptoms

Anxiety

ANXIETY SYMPTOMS

Anxiety causes a marked change in the behavior and feelings. This can cause symptoms such as1:

  • Feeling restless
  • Fear
  • Inability in concentrating
  • Irritability

These symptoms lead to avoidance of social contact.1

Diagnosis

Anxiety

ANXIETY DIAGNOSIS

Anxiety is mostly diagnosed as a cause if symptoms extend for six months or more.1

To help with the diagnosis, doctors perform physical examination or blood tests to rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms. Some are -

  • Anemia
  • An overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism)

Management

Anxiety

AYURVEDIC TIPS FOR ANXIETY

The concept of Yuktivyparshraya Chikitsa refers to Aahar, Aushadha and Dravya Yojana to counteract vitiated vata and rajas. Additionally a satvic lifestyle with medication etc can help improve satva (Mind).2

Intellect promoting or Medhya drugs such as Mandukaparni (Centella asiatica Linn.), Yastimadhu (Glycirrhiza glabra Linn.), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia (Wild) Miers) and Shankhapushpi (Convolvulus pleuricaulis Chois) are beneficial in these conditions.

Ayurveda describes Satvajya (councelling), Daiva Vyapashraya Chikitsa (Worship Enchanting etc) that may be beneficial. 2, 3, 4

Diet Recommendations (Aahar)

A wholesome healthy diet is essential for mental health and happiness.

Use of madhur rasa, milk, ghee, sweet dishes and satvic food etc influences the pravar satva (Higher mental equilibrium).2

Lifestyle changes (Vihar)

Many yogasanas as exercise regimen are shown to be efficacious and helpful in reduction or management of stress.2

Some asanas that are helpful are as following -

It is a whole body exercise and is particularly helpful because it encourages you to breathe deeply and rhythmically.2

The Cobra pose tones the abdomen by stretching it. It also helps alleviate stress and fatigue and also improves blood circulation, thereby reducing anxiety.2

 

Savasana has a regenerative effect on the mind and the body. It provides relief from any kind of stress and strain in few minutes. It is a good activity for managing restlessness, insecurity, frustration, anxiety, and fear.2

 

Paroxysmal gamma waves produced in brain during the Bhramari Pranayama which is associated with positive thoughts, feelings of happiness and acts as a natural antidepressant.2

FAQS

Anxiety
  1. Why is stress bad for my health?
    Stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior. If left unchecked, stress can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Some of the common effect that stress can cause but we may not realize are -
  • Headache,
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Change in sex drive
  • Stomach upset
  • Sleep problems etc.

Hence it is very important that stress should not be ignored as a condition and immediate medical support should be sought for it.

  1. What are the reasons for depression/How does depression happen?

There are no specific reasons that can lead to depression. Every person responds to any situation in different ways.

Yet, depression can happen to anyone and at any age, but often begins in adulthood. Depression is now being diagnosed in children and adolescents too. There are no specific risk factors, but following things increase the chances of someone to have depression -

  • Personal or family history of depression
  • Major life changes, trauma, or stress
  • Certain physical illnesses and medications
  1. What is addiction? How does it affect someone?

Addiction refers to the dependence on a legal or illegal drug, alcohol or medication. When addicted, people are not able to control their use of the substance, and may continue using the drug despite the harm it causes. Alcohol/drug addiction can cause serious, long-term consequences, including problems with physical and mental health, relationships, employment, and the law.

  1. Why do I feel anxious without any apparent reason?

While the exact cause of generalized anxiety isn't fully understood, it's likely that a combination of several factors plays a role. Research has suggested that these may include over activity in areas of the brain involved in emotions and behavior or it may be genetic in origin. Often use of drugs, smoking or alcohol can be an underlying cause of anxiety.

However, many people develop anxiety for no apparent reason and it is therefore advisable to report it to the doctor and work towards managing the condition.

  1. Do children suffer from depression?

While depression is generally associated with adults or senior citizens, it is not uncommon for children to be diagnosed with both depression and an anxiety disorder, or depression and general anxiety.

Children whose parents have depression are at a greater risk of being depressed. Depression in children often presents with irritability, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, Change in school grades, getting into trouble at school, or refusing to go to school, change in eating habits etc. These symptoms should not be ignored and possibility of depression in such children may be considered.

  1. How is Bipolar disorder caused? Is it only genetic?

A lot of research in neuropsychology has shown that there is research has shown that there is no single cause responsible for BPD. Instead, it is likely that many factors contribute to the illness or increase risk. Genetics is just one of them.

While research suggests that people with certain genes are more likely to develop bipolar disorder than others, it is also seen that genes are not the only risk factor for bipolar disorder. Studies of identical twins have shown that even if one twin develops bipolar disorder, the other twin does not always develop the disorder, despite the fact that identical twins share all of the same genes.

  1. Are phobias serious to a personal health?

Generally speaking, a ‘phobia’ is an overwhelming and unreasonable fear of an object or situation that poses little real danger but provokes anxiety and avoidance in the sufferer. Although many feel that phobias are harmless, they can be destructive to those who have them, causing the following problems that affect many aspects of life - such as social isolation, depression, lead to substance abuse, and may be the reason behind suicide too.

  1. Are there any specific herbs that are specifically used to improve mental faculties?

Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia describes the various herbs and their qualities in details. Certain herbs belonging to the class of Medhya drugs such as Mandukaparni (Centella asiatica), Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), Jatamansi (Nordostachys jatamansi) and Yastimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra) are considered amongst herbs that improve mental faculties and should be used often as a part of diet and lifestyle especially for children.

  1. What are the common symptoms of dementia? Is any memory loss called Dementia?

Dementia is a syndrome (a group of related symptoms) associated with an ongoing decline of the brain and its abilities. A common symptom is memory loss but it is not the only symptom. Other problems can be low thinking speed, diminished mental agility, problems with language, understanding and judgement.

People with dementia can become apathetic or uninterested in their usual activities, and have problems controlling their emotions. They may also find social situations challenging, lose interest in socializing, and aspects of their personality may change.

  1. I often forget things or important tasks. Do I have Alzheimer’s disease?

Occasional forgetfulness or missing things due to lack of concentration or time may not necessarily be a serious condition. But if you continuously forget things or tend to forget simple day to day tasks – this may be an indication of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Any progressive memory loss should not be ignored and bought to medical attention, even if it seems negligible or not serious.

  1. I had a road rage incident today, I feel nervous and afraid to ride on the road again. Why is this so?

It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. Anyone can develop PTSD at any age. This includes war veterans, children, and people who have been through a physical or sexual assault, abuse, accident, disaster, or many other serious events. This needs to be bought to medical attention and can be managed with counseling and therapy.

  1. What are the consequences of inattentiveness or weak memory of school children? Does this need to be cared for?

A weak memory leading to learning problems can have long term adverse social and economic outcomes. They include grade repetition, behavioral disorders, mood and self-esteem difficulties and school failure during the school years, and unemployment and poverty in adulthood. By using medhya rasayana, Ayurved promises improvement in working memory and improved grades ad performance among school children.

  1. What is post partum depression? Does every new mother go through it?

New mothers generally report ‘baby blues’ immediately after childbirth, which commonly include mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. These symptoms typically begin within the first two to three days after delivery, and may last for up to two weeks. But some mothers experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression known as postpartum depression (PPD). Uncommonly, an extreme mood disorder called postpartum psychosis also may develop after childbirth.

References

Anxiety
  1. NHS Choices. Generalised anxiety disorder in adults Available at http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/anxiety/pages/introduction.aspx accessed on Aug 26th
  2. Mittal SK et. al. Role Of Ayurveda And Yoga In Mental Disorder Or Mental Illness. IAMJ. Oct 2014; Vol. 2(5): 664-71
  3. Charak Samhita of Agnivesha. Vidhyotini Hindi Vyakhya- Sastry K & Chaturvedi G – Editors. Chaukhambha Bharati Academy, Varanasi 221001. Reprint 2011. Chapter 9.
  4. Charak Samhita of Agnivesha. Vidhyotini Hindi Vyakhya- Sastry K & Chaturvedi G – Editors. Chaukhambha Bharati Academy, Varanasi 221001. Reprint 2011. Chapter 1
  5. Dabur: Ayurvedic products and drugs. Available at http://www.daburmediclub.com/product.aspx accessed on Aug 19th 2016.

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