In recent years, there has been increasing acknowledgement of the mental health. Depression is one of the leading causes of disability. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds. Despite progress in many countries, people with mental health conditions often experience severe human rights violations, discrimination, and stigma. According to the World Health Organization (or the WHO), by 2020 approximately 20 percent of Indian citizens will be suffering from some form of mental illness. Currently, the strength of mental health professionals in India, to cater to the 1.38 billion people (latest UN data) that live here, is a meagre 4000. The treatment gap is a staggering 83 percent. Mental health is intimately linked to working outcomes and performance at the workplace. Absenteeism due to stress, anxiety, and depression at work has become extremely common. However, it is not just working professionals that suffer, 20 percent of all Indian mothers suffer from postpartum depression. Now a days we see, many kids suffering with Autism Spectrum disorders. It is estimated that worldwide about one in 100 children has autism.
Increased efforts is required on all fronts for mental health awareness to increase understanding and reduce stigma; for efforts to increase access to quality mental health care and effective treatments; and for research to identify new treatments and improve existing treatments for all mental disorders. In 2019, WHO launched the WHO Special Initiative for Mental Health (2019-2023): Universal Health Coverage for Mental Health to ensure access to quality and affordable care for mental health conditions in 12 priority countries to 100 million more people.
In the contemporary science, for more than 50 years, the treatment of mental illness has been focused on the use of pharmaceutical drugs such as Thorazine, Prozac, and Valium, or psychopharmacology. These medications are designed to correct imbalances in the neurotransmitters within the brain and alleviate the life-altering symptoms thought to be caused by these imbalances. With these cures one might expect to see fewer and fewer patients needing these treatments, but just the opposite is true. The use of antidepressant medications alone has increased more than 400% since 1990. Recent studies have linked depression to dysbiosis, or imbalanced gut microbiota and to generalized inflammation throughout the body. New approaches to the treatment of mental illness are opening the doors to a more holistic way of healing the mind.
Ayurveda, the ancient medical system from India, is one such holistic therapy offering an alternative approach to healing mental illness. According to Ayurveda, health is not merely considered to be a state of freedom from ailments or diseases, but rather a state of enjoying uninterrupted physical, mental and spiritual happiness and fulfilment. Ayurveda considers any treatment with a holistic approach to cure both body and mind. Ayurveda greatly stress on the importance of mental health thousands of years ago. Ayurveda describes extensively conditions from mild anger and greed to severe psychoses. Simultaneously the whole world is looking for the solutions afflicting in mental health sector.
So Ayurveda’s approach for treating such mental imbalance would be a combination of assessing one’s body constitution, status of tridoshas, condition of bodily tissues, digestive power, and status of mind, nature of the gut, disease and medicine. In Ayurveda each individual is different, hence approach for the patient suffering with psychological condition will also not be generalised.
Psychological Counselling in Maitri Ayurveda focuses on identifying and removing the root cause of a mental illness. The symptom is then treated with qualities that are antagonistic to the imbalance, thus provoking the mind-body and spirit to re establish equilibrium.
Approach in psychological counselling is as follows
- The mind-body connection is very important in Ayurveda. Physical imbalances can disturb mental state while mental illness leads to disruption of body functions. Hence the physical-mental connection is corrected by understanding the cause. Various Panchakarma treatments like Abhyanga (Massage), Shirodhara, Shiropichu, Nasya (Nasal drops instillation), Virechana (colon cleasing) etc. are advised.
- Vasti is one special Panchakarma treatment, by which medicine is administered into the gut through the anus. This treatment has proved result in correcting the gut-brain mechanism centuries ago in Ayurveda, which is now been researched by physicians of contemporary science.
- Ayurveda recognizes three physical humors, or doshas (vata, pitta and kapha) as well as three mental humors, or gunas (rajas, sattva and tamas). The sage Charaka describes the gunas as Tamas: inertia, dullness, darkness; Rajas: momentum, desire, action; Sattva: peace, clear, balanced, steady. Sattwa is considered as the state of healthy mind. Any imbalance in the three doshas of body or mind is rectified. Satwaavajaya:- is the treatment advised to control the mind i.e. one should keep himself establish in his oneself after knowing real nature of soul and attaining height of spiritual wisdom. Its techniques are: Gyan - Spiritual Knowledge, Vignana - Educating the Patient, Dhairya - Moral Boosting, Smruti - Reviving the Knowledge, Samadhi - Abstaining from Over Indulgence in Materialistic world.
- Classically, Ayurveda recognizes three causes of disease: 1. Prajnaparadha – Intellectual crime 2. Asatmendriyartha samyoga – Misuse of the senses 3. Parinama – Delay due to time and motion. Intellectual crime is making unhealthy choices, such as staying up too late or eating unhealthy comfort foods etc. Misuse of the senses, is described of three categories, insufficient use, over-use and wrong use. This will vitiate the doshas. The sense organs are intimately related to the mind. One of the most important issues today is the growing exposure to media, like the increasing access to TV, Mobile, excessive use of internet, social media, diet etc. Detailed history taking is done, causes of the disease is identified and the solutions are advised accordingly like yogic practice of pratyahar, or the withdrawal of the sense inwards, is designed to correct imbalances of this nature.
- Ayurveda recognizes the primary importance of diet, sleep, and management of sexual energy, or brahamacharya. When the physical humors or doshas, go out of balance they can throw the mind out of balance. Hence proper daily routine, dietary recommendations, lifestyle modifications are advised. Understandably, Ayurvedic treatment of mental illness emphasizes the importance of eating not only a nutritionally healthy diet but also one that is appropriate for the constitution of the individual.
- Ayurveda considers excess of negative emotions like shoka (sorrow), krodha (anger), chinta (unnecessarythinking), kama (lust), krodha (anger), lobh (greed), moha (delusion), irshya (jealousy), abhimana (pride), mada (euphoria), shoka (sorrow) and bhaya (fear) are also the reasons for development of disturbances in the mental health. Hence the reasons behind the emotions are identified during the counselling phase and treatments are advised.
- In conditions of Children with Autism – understanding the prakruti of the kid, assessing the food pattern, assessing the mental condition of mother during pregnancy, detailed history etc. are done. Shirodhara, vasti, massage, Virechana etc Panchakarma treatments are advised.
List of Treatments advised based on the conditions
- Daily Routine (Lifestyle Change)- Dinacharya
- Diet and Nutrition
- Oil Massages (Abhyanga) and Shirodhara Treatment,
- Yoga and Meditation
- Medhya Rasayanas (Herbal Supplements)
- Ayurveda Medicine
- Satwavaajaya – Psychotherapy
- Panchakarma Treatment (Detoxification Therapy)
Timely treatment helps in eliminating the impurities and restoring Sattva in the mind. Depression, stress, neurosis, insomnia, anxiety are common problems that hint at a more serious underlying root-cause. Ignoring these problems can later become serious Manasa Roga—psychological disorders. A period of cleansing to remove accumulated toxins may be necessary, followed by a period of rejuvenation, or rasayana. Once the physical origins, such as improper diet and lifestyle, have been resolved treatment can begin to work on the subtler levels of the mind and finally the spirit.
Prevention is better than cure. All these solutions can also be followed by a healthy individual if he wants to balance his body and mind in a natural way.
Health is Everything!!! (Swasthyam Sarvarthasadhanam)