Being healthy is not just the absence of illnesses; it is to feel blissful, in Body, Mind & Spirit

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June 2020

  Depression : It's More Than ‘Just A Bad Day’ William Styron, in his memoir Darkness visible, has vividly explained about his tryst with depression, comparing the pain and agony of mental health as that of a heart attack. He defines depression as the ‘grey drizzle of unrelenting horror’. Depression is no longer a dark, terrible secret which you need to hide from the world. More and more people are now ready to break their silence about this perennial plague of the human mind which had been concealed by cultural baggage all these years. The earliest understanding of depression was a spiritual condition caused by demonic possession. It was Hippocrates who described it as a disease named ‘melancholia’, but he included all kinds of quiet insanity under this term. This concept was repeatedly moulded and reconceived, to give rise to our current understanding of depression. What is Depression? Depression is a mood disorder that causes distressing symptoms with a persistent feeling of sadness, pessimism, guilt, or hopelessness that can last for weeks, months, or years. According to WHO, depression is the leading cause of disability in the world. It comes in various forms, but as it is intangible and imperceptible, it is a lot difficult to diagnose, empathise, and understand the situation. It is important to understand the difference between clinical depression and feeling sad. Almost everyone feels blue from time to time; failing an examination, an illness, losing a loved one, or even an argument can make you sad. This is completely normal and as the situation changes, we learn to cope with our emotions and return to normalcy. Clinical depression on the other hand is a debilitating medical condition that continues for at least two or more weeks consecutively, significantly affecting physical, emotional, social wellbeing and interfering with the ability to work. Sometimes it may also be accompanied by anxiety, as both of them stem from the same vulnerability. Because of its complexity, understanding depression has been elusive, yet even in the most severe cases, depression is highly treatable. Causes Neuroscientists still don’t have the real answer as to what exactly causes depression. It is a result of a complex interaction of genetic, biological, and psychological factors that may be caused by faulty mood regulation by the brain and triggered by a negative experience or a stressful condition. We all have to encounter stressful events at some point in life, and we all feel sad, but not

Stress In Women COVID-19 has spread panic throughout the world. We don’t have any idea, how much will we be impacted and when is this pandemic going to end. The uncertainty and ambiguity surrounding the situation make it even more challenging and overwhelming.  As we stare into the fear of contracting the disease, unemployment, dwindling economy, starvation, and alcoholism, another public health crisis is gearing up in the background silently, which could be more fatal than coronavirus. The social and economic meltdown will create an atmosphere of uncertainty and panic, which could become the perfect breeding ground for stress, anxiety, depression, addictive behaviours, morbidity, and suicide. Everyone is having a hard time coping with this unprecedented situation. But the surprising fact is that there is a stark gender gap in how this unhappiness is distributed. Women are having a harder time than their male counterparts, juggling their career and family life. What is stress? Stress is a natural reaction of the body to any immediate threat or difficult situation. Stress response was honed as a homeostatic tool in our ancestors to make them more attentive towards a predator or impending danger. But nowadays, our challenges are emotional and psychological threats rather than physical ones, like a looming deadline or workplace competition. This may prove positive in some cases, by motivating us or sharpening our senses, but prolonged stress can have negative effects like increased heart rate, fluctuating blood pressure, rise in muscle tension, increased susceptibility to develop anxiety and depression which can deeply impact our health, mood, performance, and wellbeing. Effects of stress on women While stress can cause physical and psychological symptoms in both men and women alike, the intensity and reaction to stress has a strong relation to gender. Unlike men who have a “fight or flight reaction” to stress, with emotions ranging from rage, recklessness, and anger, women have a “tend and befriend” appxroach which is more apt for negotiating. The exact mechanism of this is not known, but the difference in brain and hormone levels is a possible cause of these exclusive reactions in women. The stress hormones produced in men are cortisol and adrenaline, whilst in women, in addition to these two, oxytocin, a hormone that promotes bonding, is secreted. This causes women to seek social support and try to reason out why they are feeling stressed, while men tend to withdraw socially and exhibit signs of rage and anger. But why

Stress In Children Children and adolescents might feel stressed and anxious owing to fear surrounding COVID-19 and isolation due to social distancing. Parents need to devise methods tailored and customised according to a child’s age and needs to help them overcome this stressful situation. The COVID-19 situation and ensuing social distancing are gravely affecting children and adolescents as they are forced to stay at home, away from school and friends. Parents are worried about how to manage and nurture the needs of growing kids and how much the current situation is going to affect them, as they are living in almost a hostage like situation, locked in their homes. Early years of life are significant and providing a stable and nurturing environment is essential as the brain is undergoing rapid development. The social isolation and lack of interaction with their peers in their formative years can lead to a multitude of social and behavioural adversities in children. In order to be safe and keep others safe, we are practicing social distancing, but this means that kids are losing out on very important relationships in their life: their friends and teachers who can help them cope with the stress of this crisis. Stress disrupts aspects of brain development that regulate emotional and cognitive processes and promote normal social relationships. Adolescents on the other hand are in a crucial developmental stage where they are highly vulnerable to many psychological dysfunctions. What Is Stress? Stress is a normal reaction to a difficult situation or a physical danger. The human body releases stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream, speeding up blood pressure, heart rate, and metabolism. This helps in preparing a person to act quickly under a critical condition. However, when stress continues for a longer period of time, it can produce long term physical and psychological impairment, and this becomes increasingly concerning in case of kids and teens as they are in the formative years and these negative emotions might sow the seeds of future mental disorders like anxiety and depression in them. Stress In Kids  Kids may not fully comprehend the economic and health impact that COVID-19 is going to have, but they notice that their parents are stressed and get worried themselves. Toddlers and preschoolers cannot express their feelings clearly, but instead exhibit physical symptoms of stress, like abdominal pain, tantrums, and bedwetting. Reactions like this which are different than the kid’s typical conduct indicate

History reveals the leaders of ancient times were keen on their oral health to an extent that the teeth of some famous leaders are still conserved. For example, the left canine of Gautama Buddha is still preserved at the “Temple of tooth” in Sri Lanka. But apart from brushing daily, people these days are concerned about oral health only when some dental problem pops up. We brush regularly, flash a smile as a mode of expressing several emotions, munch on several eatables a day. Yet, how many of us are really serious about oral hygiene? Compared to the present era, people of olden times were more conscious of oral health. Ayurveda as a mode of healthy lifestyle gives great importance to oral health and hygiene. This article throws light on the several Ayurveda procedures that can be practiced daily for maintaining oral hygiene. BRUSHING THE TEETH For some reason, there is always an apprehension for both adults and children alike when it comes to dental checkup. It could be the thought about extraction, the injections, the anesthesia that may be required during the process or even the fear for all those equipment and instruments. Whatever the reason be, the fear has forced us to search for healthy preventive options and many are turning the Ayurveda way. So, what Ayurveda says about dental care?  Intrigued? Let us find out. शरीरचिन्तां निर्वर्त्य कृतशौचविधिस्ततः  अर्कन्यग्रोधखदिरकरञ्जककुभादिजम् प्रातर्भुक्त्वा च मृद्वग्रं कषायकटुतिक्तकम् कनीन्यग्रसमस्थौल्यं प्रगुणं द्वादशाङ्गुलम् भक्षयेद्दन्तपवनं दन्तमांसान्यबाधयन् II                  (Ashtanga Hridayam Sutra sthanam 2/2-4) As you may be aware, people during ancient times used the twigs of trees for cleaning the teeth. Acharya Vaghbata is very specific about the herbs that should be used for this purpose. He recommends the use of drugs with Kashaya (astringent), Katu (pungent)and Tikta (bitter) predominant tastes such as Arka (Calotropis procera), Nyagroda (Ficus benghalensis), Khadira (Acacia catechu), Karanja (Pongamia pinnata), and Kakubha (Terminalia arjuna). Oral diseases are mainly Kapha dosha predominant and that is why he mentions those three tastes in particular, as they help pacify Kapha. He further mentions, the twig should be straight with a thickness equal to the tip of one’s little finger and length around 12 Angula (approx. 24cm). If you look at this description closely, this is nothing but an ancient model of a toothbrush. Acharya also advises to chew the tip of the twig and while cleaning, one should not hurt

Stress In Men Stress does not discriminate, but how we react to and manage stress is inextricably related to gender. It is astounding that a lot of men are not vocal about their struggles unlike women due to stigma and cultural beliefs that men are stronger than women. Men thus tend to suppress their emotions resulting in ineffective coping, anger issues, and substance abuse. They tend to convert stereotypically female emotions of feeling sadness and fear into more masculine emotions of anger and rage. As men are less likely to report emotional and physical symptoms of stress, they find it more difficult to manage stress than women, taking a more masked approach. Men don’t show when they are feeling stressed, but their stress-activated hormones spikes higher than women’s. As men are more prone to bottling their emotions, hidden stress might reveal itself in the form of anger and violence, as anger helps them cope with the unprecedented situation. Men tend to adopt a “fight or flight response”, where they ignore the perspective of others, while women try to reason out why they are feeling stressed. The year 2020 began as any other new year would: with our celebrations, resolutions…but as we are halfway into 2020, we all know for now that it is far from a normal year. What began with reports of some strange cases of viral pneumonia in China, rapidly spread all over the world, completely altering the way we led our lives. We are seeing derailing careers, shattering finances, and upending social lives which along with the fear of contracting the virus is giving rise to an equally deadly but silent pandemic: stress and depression.  Humans are social creatures, and we crave to stay connected with others. We have been evolved to feel safest in groups and as a result, physical isolation is comprehended by our mind as a physical state of emergency. Social distancing and stay at home orders have snatched our sense of belonging and love, and both physical and mental well being get seriously compromised in such an uncertain and ambiguous situation, especially in those who have existing psychological conditions. Social isolation and loneliness can lead to an increase in stress, depression and substance abuse, which can have profound effects on physical and psychological health. What Is Stress? Stress is a normal physiological response to an abnormal situation. It enables our body to adapt and equip ourselves to the difficult

Stress And Anxiety : How Ayurveda Can Help Stress and anxiety are two emotions that have the power to sabotage our confidence and make our simple day to day activities overwhelming. Learn how to cope with your fears and uncertainties to protect and reclaim your lost vitality and well being.We are leading a busy life. Technology, workplace pressure, and career goals have made us so immersed in our professional life, that we hardly find time to pause and think about ourselves. Unless the situation becomes out of control, we never pay attention to how much we are exhausting ourselves. Everyone experiences stress and anxiety at some point in life. Although used interchangeably, there is a strong connection and overlap between these two emotions. Broadly speaking, stress is a response to a difficult situation, and anxiety is a reaction to stress. They are a part of human life and are not always bad. Feeling worried about a job interview you are about to face or getting tensed to take an examination; these emotions are temporary, keeping us on our toes, helping us overcome a situation, and even motivate us to be more responsible. But when these emotions become persistent, uncontrollable or, begin to interfere with multiple aspects of our normal day to day activities, it is time to address the situation and seek help. The Science Of Stress Stress is a normal fight or flight response to a challenge, while anxiety is excessive fear which manifests behaviourally in anticipation of a physical, emotional, real, or perceived threat. It is completely normal to feel stressed and anxious in uneasy situations: it ensures that we are ready and alert to deal with any imminent danger. When we face any danger or challenge, the hypothalamus, a small region at the base of the brain sends signals to adrenal glands, which releases hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones cause an increase in the heart rate, boost energy supply, and elevate blood pressure at the same time sharpening our senses. It is a very primitive homeostatic mechanism; which helped our ancestors to protect themselves from potential danger or predators. However, in the modern era, our threats are less physical and more psychological like the pressure to perform or coping with a difficult situation.The stress response is self-limiting and once the danger has ended hormone levels return to normal. But if you are constantly dealing with a difficult situation, you

Organic Vs Natural Vs Herbal ! All That You Need To Know The meaning of these terms often overlaps hence we cannot easily differentiate between the terms natural and organic. Many of us also do not understand if herbal and Ayurveda are the same or not. It is all the more confusing since the meaning of these terms often overlaps.A simplified classification can be made as below: i) Herbal Products: The word "herbal" is derived from Latin word "herbalis".   Herbal products are made of plant extracts, plant roots, leaves, etc. and used as per their properties.  Herbal products are free from chemicals; however, pesticides may have been used in their growing. Herbal products are used in medicines. ii) Ayurveda Products:Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word which means 'life-knowledge'.  Ayurveda is the ancient system of Indian medical science which includes the use of herbs as well as heavy metals like gold, silver, copper, tin mercury, sulphur, animal extracts, etc. Obviously they are used as medicines or to boost the immune system. iii) Natural Products:Natural products are made from plants are minerals that occur in nature and have not been produced in laboratories and are not man-made. However pesticides, chemical fertilizers may have been used to enhance their growth. Generally, a product claiming to be natural is free of common chemicals such as artificial fragrances, colorants, preservatives, and other synthetic additives, etc. iv) Organic Products:Organic products are also made from natural ingredients, but they are grown without the use of chemicals or pesticides. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), organic 'is a labeling term that indicates the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods.  These methods integrate cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity.  Synthetic fertilisers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.'Generally, organic products do not contain any genetic modified ingredients or petrochemicals. They do not undergo any animal testing unless required by law, and are minimally processed. Labeled, 'made with organic ingredients', it implies the product is made with at least 70% organic ingredients. Animals on organic farms are fed  organically grown feed and they are not confined 100% of the time. They are raised without antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones.  Why Organic produces are better than conventional produces According to some research, organic foods may have higher nutritional value than conventional food. The reason is that in the absence of