Depression and sleep problems often go hand-in-hand. In fact, among individuals with depression, 75% have difficulty falling or staying asleep – meaning that they suffer from insomnia. Other symptoms of insomnia include waking often through the night, not feeling rested, and becoming irritable or anxious. Below, discover how Ayurvedic medicine for depression and insomnia can help create a more balanced life.

How Ayurveda Defines Depression

“...Any kind of volitional body-mind movement, whether mental or physical, constitutes a kind of action, or karma. Each action or volition leaves an impression (samskāra) in the deepest part of memory, there to lie dormant for a time and then spring forth into some new, related action. This in turn will create fresh latent expressions, in a cycle of latency and action.” - The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali, translated by Chip Hartranft

Ayurveda recognizes depression as the disconnect between the mind, body, and spirit and an imbalance of the mana vaha srotas or the channels of the mind. The causes can be traced to traumas, genetics, environment, fear, and doshic imbalances, all of which result in a disconnect between the koshas. This space of weakness and defectiveness is referred to as khavaigunya and is when vulnerable dis-ease sets in.

The symptoms of depression can be similar yet different among the doshas: 

  • Vata may present more anxiety and insomnia paired with depression
  • Pitta may experience increased irritability and anger as well as insomnia
  • Kapha may experience hypersomnia (or oversleeping) and may eat sweets to feel better (although Kapha-predominant individuals can still suffer from insomnia depending on their vikruti and prakruti)

Best Ayurvedic Medicine for Depression and Insomnia

Disorders of the mind are imbalances related to rajas and tamas. When one is exposed to energies and influences that are sattvic in nature, they suffer less from dis-ease or imbalance. The treatment of depression and insomnia in Ayurveda requires the implementation of sattvic energies in the regimen of care and may potentially include the following.

1. Meditation

Implementing daily meditation, especially in the morning and evening, can greatly reduce insomnia and lessen depression. Meditation is a reset for the mind and gives space for the mind to relax, rejuvenate, and connect to calmness. In Ayurveda, understanding and relaxing one's own mind is important when directing towards balance and inner fulfillment. The world is full of unhealthy influences that can distort the natural state of the mind, causing illnesses and imbalances, and meditation helps to reverse that distortion.

2. Panchakarma

Panchakarma entails the deep detoxification and cleansing of a person's body and consciousness. It helps the individual reach a state nearest to their prakruti. Each person's panchakarma treatment will be tailored to their individual needs. The importance of panchakarma may involve snehana, vamana, virechana, bastis, abhyanga, svedhana, shirodara, and more. Panchakarma should be performed by the appropriately licensed or certified individuals according to one's state or country, preferably an Ayurvedic physician and Ayurvedic practitioner.

3. Sattvic Diet

A sattvic diet includes fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, organic grains, limited dairy products (which can include premium Ghruta ghee that’s prepared accordingly), herbal teas, and plenty of water. Adding a teaspoon of Chyawanprash to one's daily diet also contributes to sattvic eating. 

A sattvic diet also includes getting enough fresh air! The individual would be suggested to avoid spicy, salty, fried, frozen, or fermented foods, as well as avoiding excessive meat or alcohol. Incorrect food combining should also be avoided, like combining milk/yogurt with meat.

4. Positive Environment

The company you keep can greatly influence your mental state. This can include friends, family, coworkers, and most importantly, your environment. The environment with which you live and work in will influence your mental health and can bring about dis-eases like stress, anxiety, depression, and affect your self-esteem and self-worth. Creating healthy boundaries, or making shifts in your life where needed to protect your healthy mental state is very important.

5. Ayurvedic Herbs

Specific herbs can help alleviate insomnia and treat depression. Although herbal remedies should be prescribed specifically for one's dosha and conditions, these herbs are often used for sleep issues, calming the mind, and helping with depression:

  • Brahmi
  • Guduchi
  • Holy Basil Leaf

PIOR Living Mind is formulated with these herbs and more to nourish the brain and mind. This rejuvenative herbal supplement is designed to improve cognitive function and brain health, helping with memory, concentration, mental acuity, and more.

6. Ayurvedic Psychotherapy

In Ayurveda, psychotherapy is referred to as satvavajaya and includes the methods of yoga, pranayama, mantra, chanting, and talk therapy. Incorporating a daily yoga practice helps increase serotonin, endorphins, dopamine, and blood flow in the brain, which helps to regulate sleep patterns and elevate mood. Pranayama helps to calm the mind, balance the nervous system, provide cellular regeneration, and provide strength to the organs, mind, and spirit. As well as mantras, chanting, and talk therapy with a professional, studies have shown that significant improvements in sleep patterns and depression have been found with Ayurvedic Psychotherapy.

While we can help provide a framework with Ayurvedic medicine to help treat depression and insomnia, it is recommended that you consult with your Ayurvedic physician or Ayurvedic practitioner to ensure and develop the correct treatment plan specifically for you.

Mental health is the most important factor in health and wellness and provides a framework for a healthy and enjoyable life. It should be a standing priority when working towards optimal health.

Ceanna Saatsaz is a Licensed Master Esthetician, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner, and Certified Professional Herbalist from Seattle, WA.

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