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Of 8 lakh people who take the drastic step of ending their lives every year around the world, 17% are Indians. In recent times, the media has also reported on several heart-wrenching suicides that are believed to be linked to the toll COVID-19 is taking on individuals. The most common emotion faced by all during this time is ‘fear’. It makes us anxious, panicky and can even possibly make us think, say or do things that we might not consider appropriate under normal circumstances. Fortunately, there are lots of things that we can do to look after our mental health and to help others who may need some extra support and care. Here is information that we hope you will find useful.
While most of us are still trying to adapt ourselves to the new realities of working from home, temporary unemployment, home schooling of children, and lack of physical contact with other family members, friends and colleagues, it can be particularly stressful for people with mental health conditions. Therefore, it is important to pay close attention to them and if you notice any sudden change in their behaviour, it is advisable to contact a doctor on an immediate basis.
In addition to lack of awareness, people hesitate to seek medical help or even talk about it with their friends or family thinking “Log kya kahenge?” most people with mental health conditions who suffer in silence think that asking for help will tag them as “crazy” or “weak”. This is far from the truth. Depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions are more common than we think. Moreover, it is a sign of strength to seek help for what we are not able to overcome.
Sadness is a normal human emotion that all of us feel in reaction to certain stressful situations like failing an exam, not getting a job, financial trouble, or a break-up. Gradually, we overcome that saddening emotion in different ways like crying, venting, or talking out frustrations. But, for people with depression, this is not the case.
Depression is an emotional or psychological state characterised by feelings of extreme sadness, melancholy, anger, sense of loss, trouble concentrating and making decisions and self-destructive negative thoughts. Depression can be broadly classified as minor, such as post-partum or premenstrual, or major when the symptoms are present every day continuously for more than 2 weeks. Ayurveda explains depression as a lowered state of Sattva in the mind. This can happen as a psychological reaction to various stressors of life.
According to Ayurveda, there are three operational qualities of the mind, the three gunas – Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas. These qualities are inherent in all aspects of our lives. They cannot be perceived with our senses, but they can be deduced with our actions. These include the diet we choose, our levels of concentration, memory function, hygiene, creativity, spiritual disposition, discipline, honesty, and speech.
At the mental level, the dominance of sattva represents a healthy mind whereas the dominance of rajas and tamas denotes an unhealthy mind. Excess of sattva guna leads to mental harmony, which initiates knowledge about what is good and bad for the body and mind in terms of food, lifestyle, and other activities. Excess of rajas and tamas, on the other hand, increase agitation and confusion. This leads to depression, anxiety, and other mental problems. Most of us are a mixture of these three gunas and the combination fluctuates at different stages of our life. Therefore, it is to our advantage to decrease rajas and tamas and increase sattva to keep our mind and body healthy.
According to the Ayurvedic context, the definition of our life is broader than simply a chronological lifespan. It does not mean the age of a person; the number of years lived on Earth measured from birth until the present day. Ayus is much more than that (Ayurveda is derived from two words, ayus and veda). It is a combination of body, senses, mind, and soul. Together, these factors are responsible for sustaining the life air or force (prana) in the body, and each must be present in order to produce ayus. Every living entity has a soul and without the soul, there can be no life. Therefore, committing suicide will only take the physical body, the soul will remain alive and it continues to bear the pain and suffering to the next life. So, we must respect life and establish a connection with nature to find harmony in oneself.
No doubt, the pressure and demands of modern life pose a challenge in incorporating the desirable sattvic qualities into our lives. But, over time, we can gradually embrace the sattvic lifestyle to live a healthy and happy life.
Unlike other treatment procedures that jump straight to symptom management, Ayurveda addresses the root cause of the mental illness. Ayurveda treatment for mental problems (sattvavajaya) works on transitioning the mind from negativity (tamasic state) to positivity (sattvic state) through herbal medicines, Panchakarma, rasayanas, counselling and meditation.
Besides incorporating these tips in your daily routine, try nurturing a positive mental state by expressing gratitude, noticing good things, counting your blessings, practicing acts of kindness, living in the present, forgiveness, investing time and energy in friends and family, taking out some ‘me’ time for yourself daily.
So, if you feel depressed, anxious, or suicidal? Do you have a question related to your own or someone else's mental health? We are here to help answer any questions you might have about mental health.
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