What is the Ayurvedic perspective on Postnatal depression?

I remember when my first Ayurvedic teacher in Perth was teaching me about the body systems and what ensues in postnatal depression; I had the biggest ah ha moment!

I had goose bumps all over my body; as if wow, this is beautifully explaining what happened to me!

Sure, I understood the biochemistry and hormonal influence from a pharmacist and Western medicine paradigm; but this was looking at it with completely fresh eyes…and I loved what I saw and heard!

I guess, to understand the perspective on postnatal depression, it is important to understand the basic principles of Ayurveda.

What is a quick run-down on Ayurveda?
A quick run-down, is that all living things are made up of the elements of air, space, fire, earth and water.

A combination of these make up doshas, or energy systems that make up our bodies.

Vata dosha is made up of the air and space elements.

Pitta dosha is made up of the fire and water elements.

Kapha dosha is made up of the earth and water elements.

We all have aspects of these within our body and they have an influence in various parts of our body; also the qualities that predominate make our intrinsic and inherent make-up, our prakruti.

Most people are bi-doshic and I am a Vata Pitta composition.

When there is an excess of any element, then you need to bring on the opposite elements to balance the excess.

So, what is the perspective of Ayurveda on PND?
Specifically, in the Vata system, there are sub-doshas or sub-systems; APANA VATA which is involved in the downward propelling when we give birth, can become so aggravated after we birth our child. There is also an imbalance of the PRANA VATA, which is responsible for the life-force energy within the body.

We physically need to re-balance and pacify/nourish our VATA system with the opposing elements of fire, water and earth in order to restore and attain optimum well-being and health. By nourishing and rejuvenating our physical bodies with balancing these elements, we can best support the physical recovery after birthing our children.

When there is excess air and space, then there becomes too much movement…hello, INSOMNIA, ANXIETY, RESTLESSNESS and DEPRESSION! These were all my symptoms from day 5 post-birth to week 11 (the classic fourth-trimester on the dot); coincidence? I think not.

By bringing these opposing elements through nutrition and our 4 other senses, we are able to bring about balance and harmony into this vitiated system.

Oh, how I love this!

Biochemistry is one aspect of course. I appreciate this as a pharmacist, yes.

The body system that becomes imbalanced through the process of birth, is another aspect.

Bringing about support and resources from BOTH aspects in synergy is what I feel is the missing link right now…one that I hope brings so much nourishment, balancing and rejuvenation for the mothers who are experiencing a huge change in their system from the process of pregnancy and birth.

My hope is to not just use one modality or the other but the two synergistically.

Imagine if by utilising Ayurvedic healing practices whilst waiting for and accessing Western medicines and treatments to work, that it allowed for fewer symptoms and/or less suffering.

I would have welcomed any respite at all in my darkest hour. Though I would not have had the initiative or ability to drive my own healing, I can only imagine what my other reality could have been if I was given or presented things to do and try, instead of sitting in my room alone like a hermit ravaged by my illness!

I am so unbelievably excited by the potentiality of bringing this Eastern paradigm into the modern and Western world, together with Western allopathic treatments and protocols.

To look at the woman in her entirety of body, mind and spirit…to bring about harmony and balance into her system.

To honour her, see her, hold her.

To allow her to rest.

To encourage nourishment through Ayurvedic nutrition.

To allow her to rejuvenate through Ayurvedic practices.

To encourage her to speak up to her health care team and access the treatments she needs.

To honour this hugely transformative time of life pregnancy and birth brings about to a woman and to support her in any and all ways.

To view this mother as a divine goddess, who we can be of service to allow her to embrace her best self and health in order to raise the next generation.

Let us not forget about her. Let us not look away.

Let us cast aside any cultural conditioning that hides this condition in a corner, gathering cobwebs and dust in hope that it will miraculously get better on its own.

Let us stare her in the face. Hold her hand. Give her a warm embrace and tell her, that she always has been, is and always will be perfect, whole and complete and help carry her over to the path of recovery.

She deserves it.

You deserve it.

It is available to you too and let us Shine The Light on your path of healing and recovery

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