Ayurvedic treatment for Post-partum depression

Post-partum depression

Know More on Psychiatry/Mental diseases

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


Post-partum depression Ayurvedic treatment


Post partum depression refers to the clinical depression seen in new others after childbirth. While many new mothers experience ‘baby blues’ immediately after childbirth, some may suffer from a severe form of depression that is long lasting and troublesome.1

As per Ayurveda the concept of ‘Sutika’ i.e. post pregnancy or puerperal period is an important time for care of the new mother. Sutika is a woman who has either just given birth or is in the period of upto 6 weeks post giving birth – the sutika kala or puerpurium or puerperal period. This period makes the new mother prone to develop many physical or mental conditions and hence special care is needed. 64 types of diseases that affect women postpartum (Sutika) and their management have been describes under the aegis of Sutika roga. 2, 3

In order to prevent any complications, special dietary regimen, living lifestyle and other required management are described in almost all Ayurvedic classics for the sutika kala as sutika paricharya. The main objective of this sutika paricharya is to provide care until a pre pregnancy state is reached. 2


Post-partum depression


The exact cause of postpartum depression is not known, but some physical and emotional issues play a role. These are1 -

  • Physical changes: Drop in the hormonal levels after childbirth can cause PPD.
  • Emotional issues: Problems with sleep patterns, sense of added responsibilities etc can contribute to postpartum depression.

Some other risk factors that contribute to PPD are1 -

  • A past history of depression
  • Depression in the family
  • Stressful personal life
  • Special needs of the baby
  • Difficulty in breast-feeding the baby

Marital problems


Post-partum depression


The symptoms of PPD are seen in the first few weeks after giving birth, but may also occur later. These are- 1

  • Depression
  • Sever swings in mood
  • Repeated crying episodes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of sleep
  • Unable to bond with baby
  • Anxiety attacks
  • Harmful thoughts for self or baby
  • Suicidal thoughts


Post-partum depression


Diagnosis of PPD will be made by a doctor after complete examination, psychiatric evaluation and certain blood tests.1


Post-partum depression


Ayurveda recommends diet and lifestyle changes along with use of medical herbs for new mothers to get back to their pre-pregnancy health. These Guidelines have been described as Sutika Paricharya or the care of the woman postpartum/post-delivery.

Diet Recommendations (Aahar)

General principles mentioned for management of sutika kala should be followed. 2

These are -

  • Avoiding causative factors
  • A wholesome diet
  • Administration of ghrita (ghee) along with jivaniya (life prolonging), brimhaniya (anabolic), madhura (sweet) and vatahara foods/herbs.

Lifestyle changes (Vihar)

  • Give proper rest to the mother
  • Regular oil massage and hot water bath – this helps strengthens lower back, hip area, bone muscles and ligaments
  • Regular massages and steam bath with herbs (sudation) which suppresses the vayu
  • Waist belt to give support the back muscles


Post-partum depression
  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.

(See separate document)



Post-partum depression
  1. Mayo Clinic. Post partum Depression. Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/basics/definition/con-20029130 accessed on Aug 28th 2016
  2. Kashyapa samhita. Vrddha Jivaka tantra. Chaukhambha Sanskrit Pratishthana. Varanasi 221001.
  3. Hashina M, Yanbeni H. Ayurvedic Approach In The Management Of Sutika Kala (Puerperium). Int Ayur Med J. Jul 2016; Vol. 4(7):1256-61
  4. Dabur: Ayurvedic products and drugs. Available at http://www.daburmediclub.com/product.aspx accessed on Aug 19th 2016.

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