Updated: Sep 8
Depression is an epidemic that affects more than 264 million people in the world. Although twice as many women suffer from depression compared to men, men are 85% more likely to commit suicide due to depression. Ayurveda may offer holistic, natural support.
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6 Ayurvedic Treatments to Help Men with Depression
Depression is an epidemic that affects more than 264 million people in the world. Although twice as many women suffer from depression compared to men, men are 85% more likely to commit suicide due to depression.
All too often, depression in men is missed by the person suffering, as well as the loved ones around them. This occurs because depression in men may look different than it does in women — especially since society discourages men to talk about their feelings openly.
If you’re among the millions of men who suffer from depression around the world, Ayurvedic treatment can help.
In this article on Ayurvedic approaches to treat men’s depression, we’ll cover:
What is depression
Causes of depression in men
Signs you may be suffering from depression
Why Ayurveda helps men suffering from depression
5 supportive Ayurveda tools for men experiencing depression
What is depression?
Depression is defined by the Mayo Clinic as, “A mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life.”
In simple terms, depression is a low emotional state that impacts a person’s mental and physical well-being. It can come on suddenly as the result of a difficult life event, ongoing family stresses, financial problems, workplace issues, and depression may occur seasonally, or be chronic.
According to Psychology Today, male depression is underdiagnosed due to a variety of factors including being taught to not show emotions or talk openly about feelings. As a result, men often downplay their true feelings, thereby masking their symptoms and depression.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. By understanding the signs and symptoms of depression, you can proactively address your mental health. Seeking help when you need it is a sign of strength — not weakness — and will enable you to be a better partner, father, friend, family member, employee, and human being.
Are you suffering from depression?
Everyone experiences depression differently. Here are signs and symptoms to watch for:
Feeling hopeless and helpless
Feeling anxious, restless, or “on the edge”
A loss of interest in work, activities
Withdrawing from family and friends or becoming isolated
Increased irritability, shorter fuse, more aggressive, agitated, impatient
Heightened sensitivity to criticism
Increased misunderstandings in communication
Self-medicating, recklessness, a sense of “what the hell”
Difficulty concentrating and being productive with work
Inability to control negative thoughts
Engaging in high-risk activities
Profound fatigue, no energy
Increase or decrease in sleeping
Problems with sexual desire and performance
Feeling sad, "empty," flat, or hopeless
Overeating or not wanting to eat at all
Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts, thoughts that life is not worth living
Physical aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems
Causes of depression in men
According to Ayurveda depression is caused when one or more of the three doshas — Vata, Pitta, and Kapha — become imbalanced. Improper nutrition and other lifestyle factors create imbalances in the doshas, which manifest mentally and physically.
Other risk factors include lack of social support, isolation and loneliness, and difficulty dealing effectively with stress.
The National Institute of Health. "Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the U.S. Current research suggests that depression is caused by a combination of risk factors including:
Genetic factors—men with a family history of depression may be more likely to develop it than those whose family members do not have the illness.
Environmental Stress—financial problems, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, major life changes, work problems, or any stressful situation may trigger depression in some men.
Illness—depression can occur with other serious medical illnesses, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or Parkinson’s disease. Depression can make these conditions worse and vice versa. Sometimes, medications taken for these illnesses may cause side effects that trigger or worsen depression."
How Ayurveda supports men suffering from depression
Ayurveda is the science or knowledge of life, and Ayurvedic medicine is one small part of that vast science. Originating 5,000 years ago, Ayurvedic medicine focuses on the body’s constitution and the energy forces within (known as the doshas). As a vast vehicle for understanding life itself, Ayurveda provides support, treatment, and a path of self-understanding.
Treatment is customized based on the doshic constitution of each person — as opposed to assigning a one-size-fits-all approach (as Western medicine tends to do, especially when it comes to treating depression).
As a path of self-understanding and life itself, Ayurveda can bring the mind and body, and spirit into balance, thereby creating optimal well-being. Ayurvedic treatments include using food as medicine, breathwork (pranayama), yog-asana, meditation, herbs, following a daily routine, and self-massage (abhyanga). Make daily use of our popular and FREE guided practices.
The benefits of integrating Ayurveda, the knowledge of life itself, into your day, balances the doshas, increases energy, the daily routine that emerges soothes anxiety and depression.
6 supportive Ayurveda tools for men experiencing depression
Please note, this content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need help with your treatment plan consult your doctor.
1.) Focus on Gut Health
“Your gut is your second brain.” Have you ever heard this phrase?
Medical professionals coined this phrase when they discovered the connection between the neurons and neurotransmitters in the brain, and the gut. Both our gut and our brain play a key role in regulating our overall well-being, including our emotions.
But when the digestive organs are inflamed, irritated, dry, or imbalanced, our emotions can go haywire. As a result, depression may occur.
In order to take care of your gut health, here are a few things you can do:
Eat meals at regular times, even a tiny meal that suits your appetite
Space your meals three hours apart, so your previous meal is fully digested before you eat again
Use food as medicine, and consume foods suited to your doshic picture.
When you’re feeling depressed, anxious, or stressed, your mind becomes crowded with too many thoughts — many of which are negative in nature.
To calm your mind, relax your body, and relieve stress and anxiety immediately, practice pranayama and meditation. The most powerful and helpful is to Learn Diaphragmatic Breathing and Change Your Life.
When we retrain our tired nervous system from fight-flight-freeze mode to rest-restore-relax through diaphgragmatic breathing and relaxation practices, we take an important step in healing.
Pranayama consists of breathing practices that help to strengthen and balance your mind and body connection through prana (energy, or think chi). Being guided in the correct application and technique of pranayama is critically important as there are various pranayama techniques available depending on your specific needs.
Practicing systematic relaxation, pranayama, and meditation can be done in a guided manner and will rebalance your body and mind, while also helping you feel more relaxed. What's more — when practiced consistently, these techniques will help you feel less stressed, anxious, and depressed.
We become what we consume, which is why ancient Ayurvedic texts say, “Take your food as medicine.”
Food can either be a slow poison that destroys immunity, health, and well-being, or it can be used as medicine to prevent and/or treat illness, increase immunity, and boost vitality.
For example, if you consume too much sugar, the dopamine in your brain will become imbalanced. When this happens, you will crave more sugar, which will impact your cognitive skills and self-control. Basically, you find yourself unable to focus and always looking for your next sugar high. Meanwhile, your brain will be deprived of proper nutrients, meaning regulating stress and anxiety will become more difficult.
When you use food as medicine, you eat food best suited for you that is free from harmful additives, and natural in form (meaning whole, local, and preferably organic). This approach to health empowers you to proactively address your body’s needs, rather than being reactive to issues as they arise.
Peruse our online free Ayurveda Recipe Box.
4.) Use Ayurvedic Herbal Remedies
Ayurvedic herbs have powerful healing properties and help to restore balance within the whole person thereby decreasing anxiety, depression, and other mental and physical issues.
When it comes to treating depression which herbs will be your best plant helpers depends on the whole picture of what is happening for you — from digestion to pain, to how depression manifests for you. Rather than trying to guess which herbs work best, speak with an Ayurvedic professional about your unique doshic constitution to determine which formula is ideal for your body type.
A few well-known Ayurvedic herbs, Ashwagandha and Brahmi, are commonly used.
Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub that grows in Asia and Africa. It contains chemicals that are said to calm the brain, reduce swelling, and increase immunity. Ashwagandha is most often used as an adaptogen to stabilize physiological processes and relieve stress.
Brahmi is a perennial herb that grows primarily in wetlands and tropical climates. It contains powerful antioxidants that aid in brain health, reduce stress and anxiety, and protect the brain from free radicals. As a result, Brahmi is typically used to treat anxiety and stress.
As with all herbs, the tenet of Ayurveda is that what works well for one person may be incorrect for another. To know what herbs are correct for you, schedule a consultation with a seasoned Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner.
“I have seen Veena at Saumya Ayurveda for several years--in fact, my family sees her. She has helped me with blood pressure and cholesterol management as well as helping me reduce overall inflammation. I sleep better, my stress has reduced, and my energy has improved. During a period of high stress, I was waking with a racing heart and the herbal and lifestyle recommendations reversed it.
I recommend Veena--she will stick by your side and be there when you need her. She is responsive, comprehensive and effective." -- Bryan Stenlund, Licensed Psychologist, Grand Rapids, Minnesota
“I feel greatly improved. Stress fell off like an old hairy coat. I’m just not anxious. Depression is way decreased. I was haunted by anxiety my whole life, and it’s just gone. The mudra, mantra...WOW. This is so cool! I have regained hope. Something wonderful is taking place. You and your knowledge come to me after a lifetime of searching and prayer. I am forever grateful.” --Mark Hughes, Minnesota
5.) Spend Time in Sunlight
Being outside, especially using gentle movements such as walking, chi gung, tai chi, or sitting — can boost serotonin and Vitamin D levels which, in turn, improves mood, increases energy, and decreases pain.
If you live in a climate with low sunlight, yes — we’re feeling that change already and it amplifies with daylight savings time — try light box therapy in addition to being outside.
Above all, remember you don't need to suffer alone. Society perpetuates this culture of masculinity where seeking help is seen as a sign of weakness. Let’s change the narrative together because there is nothing weak about realizing you’re feeling out of balance, and then taking the steps necessary to bring your mental, physical and spiritual health back into balance.
Search the Saumya Blog for more articles on: "Men's Health"
6.) Ayurvedic Daily Routines: Morning and Evening
Why build an Ayurvedic morning routine?
Our lives are a reflection of the small choices we make each day – how we treat ourselves, spend our time, and direct our energy. Choosing a couple of routines that are appealing to do daily may provide support and structure.
Ayurvedic Morning Routine | 6 Rituals for a Calm and Centered Day 10 Ayurvedic Evening Rituals for a Calming Night
6 Ayurvedic Treatments to Help Men with Depression may provide some gentle support and self-care tips.
There is a saying, "The mind is more in the body, than the body is in the mind." The Saumya 3 step meditation process shifts us from fight-flight-freeze mode, to rest-restore-relax mode. Give it a try for forty days and observe the changes. The more grounded and relaxed we are, the smoother life flows.
"The breath is the connection between the mind and body, so by training the breath, we become calm, focused, and grounded, we slow down the aging process by decreasing stress. These practices are so simple and easy to have as part of our daily life. We actually feel and look younger."
- Veena, Saumya Ayurveda
1. Learn Diaphragmatic Breathing and Change Your Life. When we re-learn to breath diaphragmatically, we move from the flight-fight-freeze mode, to rest, restore, relaxation mode from where we want and need to live.
3. Ayurveda Daily Routines: --Ayurvedic Morning Routine | 6 Rituals for a Calm and Centered Day
"Choose a couple of practices from the routines that provide you with the greatest support. Perform them while applying our two minute meditation technique and your mundane tasks, just transformed into a mellifluous meditation. This is meditation applied to daily life." - Veena, Saumya Ayurveda
"Veena was able to help me regain my energy in just a few months and I’m feeling like my “young” self again! I love the food plan she designed for me, and all the supporting practices (am/pm routines, breathing techniques, herbs, and spice mixes) are so enjoyable to incorporate into my day. I highly recommend Saumya Ayurveda if you want to feel better and have more vitality.”
-Molly Rossini, Minnesota
“Oh, golly way, way improved. Stress fell off like an old hairy coat, I’m just not anxious. Depression is way decreased. There just nothing there. I was haunted by anxiety whole life, and it’s just gone.”
--Mark Hughes, Minnesota
“Saumya Ayurveda has helped me beyond my expectations! Veena is a wonderfully astute and Ayurvedic practitioner. She’s exceptionally intuitive and empathic and can “see” me and accurately assess my conditions through virtual visits. Veena has been of immense value helping me to alleviate chronic health issues that my doctor could not. I highly recommend Saumya Ayurveda to everyone!” – Paul Kellett, St. Paul, Minnesota
"Veena at Saumya Ayurveda is an exceptional professional. Her attentive listening, kindness, and profound expertise make her a true gem in her field. With her remarkable problem-solving skills, she consistently provides the perfect answers and solutions to my needs." - Jesus Quintana, Mexico
Discover the Saumya Ayurveda Way
We all want to be heard, understood, and cared for as whole beings, not a set of isolated symptoms. True health is more than the absence of disease, which is why Western medicine so often leaves us feeling hopeless and unseen.
Deep down, you already know what you’re searching for: a new framework for living – one that brings your entire being back into balance. With Saumya Ayurveda, you’ll receive individualized guidance to create the physically, mentally, and spiritually vibrant life you crave.
Veena is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner and meditation teacher, and monk.
She is President Emeritus of the Meditation Center and former staff member of the Minnesota Institute of Ayurveda.
Veena fell in love with the traditional medicine used in her family’s home learning herbal remedies at her grandmother's knee. She remains passionate for over 30 years, helping clients feel their best physically, emotionally, and spiritually with Ayurveda.
Veena individualizes treatment plans to each person, so it fits your life.