Can you use Ayurveda for Anxiety?

Avatar for Clare Zivanovic By in anxiety, ayurveda on 13/12/2022
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Do you have anxiety?

If not, you probably know someone who does.

Anxiety, and even panic attacks, are becoming so common that people are viewing them as ‘normal’. However, anxiety is actually a medical condition that indicates the body and/or mind needs support.

With many treatment options available for anxiety, you may not have considered Ayurveda. The thing is, Ayurvedic medicine is a powerful healing option for anyone dealing with these conditions. Let’s investigate why this natural treatment is useful, after we look at the basics of anxiety and anxiety disorders.

What Are Anxiety Disorders?

It’s normal to feel low levels of anxiety sometimes. Anxiety that is temporary and happens occasionally can be a useful form of stress that motivates or protects you from future harm.

Anxiety disorders are different though.

They involve persistent feelings of stress, worry or fear that don’t go away. Symptoms of anxiety can impact everyday activities, making it difficult to participate in school, work, social gatherings and relationships.

If you think you have an anxiety disorder, you’re not alone. The Australian Psychological Society tells us they’re the most common type of mental health condition Aussies deal with.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is frequently diagnosed by mental health professionals. It involves persistent, excessive and potentially disabling worry about life in general. The worry feels uncontrollable and usually impacts daily activities and relationships.

Other anxiety disorders include:

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is used to diagnose and categorise anxiety disorders. If you want to know the specific type of anxiety you’re dealing with, your local Psychologist can assist you with this specialised process.

Anxiety and Ayurveda

Ayurveda (or Ayurvedic Medicine) is a traditional Indian medical system. It’s been supporting wellbeing for more than 3,000 years, so it’s trust level is high. Treatments aim to harmonise the 3 doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) to create physiological, mental and emotional health.

In Ayurveda, anxiety is a Vata dosha imbalance.

Vata is the ‘air’ element associated with mental and physical activity. When balanced, Vata supports movement, flow, creativity and mental clarity. However, imbalanced Vata can result in excessive movement, difficulty sleeping, lack of focus, confusion and obsessive thoughts.

Overactive Vata leads to nervous system overactivity. Anxiety is also associated with a hyper-excited nervous system, as this is what triggers the release of hormones that lead to headaches, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, shakiness and more.

Ayurveda therapy for anxiety uses foods, herbs, movement and physical applications to help regulate the Vata dosha. Ayurvedic treatment for panic attacks takes a similar approach.

Anxiety Treatment in Ayurveda

Ayurvedic medicine uses a holistic approach to treat anxiety. Here is what anxiety treatment in Ayurveda may look like:

  1. Manage The Disease

Your practitioner will take a full case history to understand what triggers your anxiety. They’ll recommend dietary, lifestyle and environmental changes, and identify ‘hidden’ factors that may be worsening symptoms.

2. Panchakarma

This is a cleansing and rejuvenating program for the body, mind and consciousness. It involves medicated liquids/oils, ghee, and head and body treatments to remove ‘Ama’ (toxins and undigested metabolic wastes) and decrease symptoms.

3. Herbal Therapy

Ayurvedic herbs that balance Vata are essential. Ashwagandha (Withania) is believed to be one of the best herbs for balancing Vata, with many studies investigating its effectiveness in anxiety.

4. Yoga

The body, mind, spirit principles of yoga are used to reduce anxiety symptoms, balance the doshas and promote deeper feelings of peace.

This treatment protocol relates to anxiety treatment in Ayurveda in Australia. However, the same strategies are used in India (the home of Ayurvedic medicine), as this trusted healing system has been used internationally for thousands of years.

Relieving Anxiety – DIY Tips

Here are some DIY tips you can try to help ease your anxiety:

Mindfulness Meditation

This is a credible DIY therapy for anxiety and depression. It involves a) focusing on the present moment, b) noticing how you feel and any symptoms that arise, c) allowing these feelings and symptoms to pass without judgement. With practice, mindfulness meditation helps with stress management and symptom control. An emerging anxiety treatment merges mindfulness with cognitive behavioural therapy.

Clean Eating

Support your nervous system by reducing the amount of processed, pre-packed and sugary foods in your diet. Choose lots of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains to nourish your body and mind instead.

Prioritise Sleep

It’s important to prioritise quality sleep if you have anxiety, as lack of it can make you feel anxious. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Note that staying away from devices for at least 1 hour before bedtime can help you fall asleep faster.

If you’re ready to try Ayurveda for anxiety, Avaana can help!

It’s a one-stop shop to search, compare and book on-the-go with trusted practitioners in your area. To see who’s available to help you with your anxiety, click the button below:

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Avatar for Clare Zivanovic

Clare Zivanovic is a qualified Naturopath, Nutritionist and Medical Herbalist. She's been part of the health industry since 1999, and has shared her wisdom on commercial television, podcasts and in best-selling health magazines. Clare is also proud to have published a popular children's book called Superfood Attitude.