Ayurveda’s Perspective on Healing Mental Illness

By AdPurkh Kaur Khalsa (Emily K Smith)

The United States is within the midst of a mental health crisis. A report conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a division of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HSS), found that 18.1% or 1 out of 5 adults in the United States was affected by any mental illness (AMI) with the last year.1 Approximately 1 in 25, or 4.3%, of adults in the U.S. experienced severe mental illness, defined by the report as “any mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder that substantially interfered with or limited one or more major life activities.”2 Additionally, the survey found 11.4% of adolescents aged 12 – 17 had experienced a major depressive episode (MDE) within the last year.3

The Mayo Clinic describes mental illness as, “A wide range of mental health conditions that affect your mood, thinking, and behavior.”4 It also provides an overview of common treatment protocols for mental illness that may include any or all of the following: medications, such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety, mood-stabilizing and anti-psychotics, designed to manage chemical imbalances within the brain; psychotherapy, or talk therapy intended to increase coping and stress management skills; brain-stimulation treatments, such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), used in extreme cases where medication and psychotherapy have failed to yield results; hospital and residential treatment programs, for those patients requiring 24-hour care, who cannot properly care for themselves or are in danger of harming themselves or others; substance abuse treatment, to treat substance abuse issues which may co-exist with mental illness. Lastly, the Clinic recommends patients participate in their own care by working together with the health care provider to decide which of the above-mentioned treatments are preferred.5

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