What is Clinical Depression?
A constant sense of hopelessness and despair is a sign you may have major depression, also known as clinical depression.
Major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older, in a given years.
Women experience depression at twice the rate of men. This 2:1 ratio exists regardless of racial or ethnic background or economic status. The lifetime prevalence of major depression is 20-26% for women and 8-12% for men. (Journal of the American Medical Association, 1996).
With major depression, it may be difficult to:
- Enjoy friends and activities
Some people have clinical depression only once in their life, while others have it several times in a lifetime.
Major depression seems to occur from one generation to the next in some families, but may affect people with no family history of the illness.
What Makes Major or Clinical Depression Different Than Sadness?
Most people feel sad or low at some point in their lives. But clinical depression is marked by a depressed mood most of the day, particularly in the morning, and a loss of interest in normal activities and relationships — symptoms that are present every day for at least 2 weeks.
In addition, according to the DSM-5 — a manual used to diagnose mental health conditions — you may have other symptoms with major depression.
Those symptoms might include:
- Fatigue or loss of energy almost every day
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt almost every day
- Impaired concentration, indecisiveness
- Insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) almost every day
- Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in almost all activities nearly every day (called anhedonia, this symptom can be indicated by reports from significant others)
- Restlessness or feeling slowed down
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
- Significant weight loss or gain (a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month)
What is depression according to Ayurveda?
yaddhi tat sparśavijñānaṃ dhāri tattatra saṃśritam||6||
tat parasyaujasaḥ sthānaṃ tatra caitanyasaṅgrahaḥ|
hṛdayaṃ mahadarthaśca tasmāduktaṃ cikitsakaiḥ ||7||
– Charaka Samhita
The heart is indispensable for all the normal mental and physical activities. In the heart, resides Para Ojas – the superior Ojas, which controls the mind. This is why, the physicians have designated the heart as ‘Hridaya’, ‘Mahat’ and ‘Artha’
When this ojas gets low in the body, depression symptoms gets high. In simple words, ojas is the will to live life and when the desire of living is exhausted, it’s called depression.
According to Ayurveda, a weak Sadhaka Agni, that inner fire which is responsible for ‘digesting’ or processing emotions, is to blame.
The term Agni is best represented by biological fire. Agni is vital at physiological and pathological levels. Just as we take food to feed ourselves for nutrition, the so called digestive fire requires constant feeding so as to carry out various biochemical pathways going on in our body.
Many people suffering from depression, anxiety, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and insomnia have digestive disturbances creating inflammation, which intensifies these mental health issues.
Their symptoms improve when we heal the gut.
Some experts have dubbed the digestive tract your “second brain” because it’s so sensitive to your emotions.
Around 95% of the body’s serotonin is produced in the intestinal tract and serotonin in your brain regulates mood, in the gut, it promotes the growth of nerve cells and alerts the immune system to foreign bodies like viruses and bacteria.
Sattvik foods that support your Sadhaka Agni include:
- Fresh, organic fruit and vegetables
- Whole grains and nuts
- Dairy products such as milk and ghee
- Beans and lentils
- Plant based oil- sesame oil for best results
- Mild sweet foods like fruit sugar and honey
- Spices like basil, coriander, ginger, turmeric