Dear Ayurvedic Abbie,
I have been diagnosed with anxiety and I am taking medication prescribed by my medical doctor. I don’t like taking medications and I was wondering what ayurveda says about treating anxiety.
I have always been a little on the nervous side. It seems that my ability to sleep, relax, and focus have all gotten progressively worse since my mother died 2 years ago, at age 75. She was always there for me and my family. I have lost weight, not such a bad thing really, and have had trouble with what my family calls “getting all worked up over nothing.”
Any tips you can share to help me? Will I be on medications for the rest of my life? I love my yoga classes and used to do a little meditation, but lately it seems I just fall asleep in meditation and cannot seem to get to class.
First let me say I am sorry that someone you love—your mother—has died. Loss strikes all of us differently. The relationship between the person we love, who has died, might have served us in a way that we did not realize while they were alive. I want to come back to this thought in a moment.
One great thing about ayurveda is that we can support western medicine with lifestyle and healthy seasonal eating without conflict. I cannot answer your questions about medications, only the doctor who made the diagnosis and prescribed the medication can answer those questions. I would suggest you consult your physician, if you have not already, and find out their thinking around medication management and the trajectory of your treatment plan.
When I review the changes that you shared it seems to me that you are having an increase in the qualites of Vata dosha, no surprise I am sure 🙂 I can offer a few suggestions to help manage Vata and support your Ojas (deep vitality, immunity) even without a full ayurvedic consultation, but to get specific I would need more information.
Hang on…I am going to nerd out for a bit…
Our mind-body connection is organized on many platforms or koshas. In yoga and ayurveda we use various techniques to increase coordination and communication between these systems to enhance our ability to be calm and aware. The Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) and the the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) work together to help us navigate life. The SNS “heats us up” to get going when opportunity strikes or there are threats while the PNS “cools us down” to feel safe, empathic and attentive. These partners in our nervous system feed two neural networks, ACC, Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC) and the Amygdala Hub, that create how we view and respond/react to our lives.
When the ACC and the Amygdala Hub are not in sync there is a disconnect that we identify as a miscommunication between our head and our heart. Now true, both of these complexes are in our brain, along the neuroplexis, but in ayurveda the mind and the heart are the same organ. This being true, the lack of coordination between the ACC and the Amygdala Hub can create all kinds of difficulty in our ability to feel safe, attentive, motivated, empathetic and aware. The logical ACC and the emotional Amygdala complex create tranquility and steadiness when in sync.
Sorry about all that, but much of what it sounds like is happening is the head and heart are not having clear communication. Grief, the loss of your mother, among other issues, might be creating some of the issues that are troubling you: sleeplessness, weight loss, trouble focusing, and a decrease in emotional durability.
I invite you to listen to a little talk about grief . I would suggest you start to take three meals a day, largest at noon, with warm and moist foods only. At bedtime, try this Nighty Night Drink, please don’t skip the saffron as it helps support ojas along with the warm milk, ghee and honey! In the morning, please start your day with some self-care and focus on the warm oil self-massage called abhyangha (try the vata balancing Banyan Botanicals oil). You are correct about the importance of your medication in your healing process. While tough to take as a wellness focused gal, it is what will support your Tarpaka or grey matter and PNS. Sometimes, we need outside support (like medication) to help us get through the day, to our therapy, yoga class or be able to manage rough days or what I call the “sway of the wave”. After a while, with support, self care and tenderness we can paddle out in the surf and get up on the board ourselves…..until then, a little yoga nidra, warm abyhanga (self oil massage),nighty night drink, and a mindfulness towards feeding yourself nourishing, digestible foods will go a long way to getting you ready to go back out and ride the waves of joy~