Mood is a complex physiological experience. It is the result of the intermingling of neurochemistry, gut health, hormonal balance, and social/psychological experience. It is a moment-by-moment litmus test of how much your life is in alignment with the needs of your body, mind, and spirit.
The greater internal harmony you have, the better your mood. Conversely, the greater internal disharmony within, the worse your mood.
We tend to think external circumstances determine our mood. But in reality, our internal harmony determines how we perceive, interpret and respond to our external circumstances. There are many things that can lend to a bad mood:
- Stress (day-to-day, global news, etc.);
- Poor diet;
- Isolation from community or family; and
- Not allowing the mind to rejuvenate through meditation.
However, one of the most important aspects of mood in Ayurveda medicine is the way in which food and gut health impact mental health. Mind and gut are inseparable. The foods you eat and the strength of your digestion determine the quality of your thoughts and mind.
Modern medicine is just beginning to grasp this concept of the relationship between the gut and brain. According to Ayurveda, the gut and brain are one functional unit. The fastest way to shift mood is by changing diet, improving gut health, and shifting your microbiome.
Improve a SAD Mood
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a clinically diagnosed form of depression that begins in the fall, continues into the winter and then typically resolves in the spring and summer. It is a condition that I didn’t pay enough attention to as a general neurologist, but as an Ayurvedic practitioner I became much more attuned to the impact of the seasons on our mood. I found that the majority of us notice some shift in mood with each season, and some of us experience more severe changes that qualify as SAD.
Modern treatments for SAD include phototherapy and antidepressants. Although SAD is a modern medical diagnosis, this shift in mood due to the changes in season is a well-documented psychological phenomenon in Ayurveda, spanning back thousands of years. So, in addition to the modern therapies for SAD, we also have access to ancient Ayurvedic treatments that help to treat SAD today and prevent it in the future.
Know Your Dosha
One of the great blessings of Ayurveda is the knowledge of the doshas and how they manifest in ourselves and in the seasons; this makes life more predictable. Once we understand our seasonal susceptibilities, conditions like SAD do not have to overtake us. We can organize our seasonal routine to combat the underlying causes of SAD before they germinate. It’s like having a GPS system for our body and mind that informs us of the turns before we have to take them. Instead of feeling like we’re always behind the eight-ball, wondering why we feel tired, depressed, anxious or frustrated, we can predict what potential pitfalls each season may hold for us and avert the danger before we ever face it.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary, MD, is a neurologist, neuroscientist and an internationally recognized expert in the ancient practice of Ayurvedic medicine. She earned her medical degree at Loma Linda University School of Medicine; completed her internship at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and neurology residency at University of California San Diego (UCSD). Chaudhary is the author of “The Prime” (Penguin Random House, 2016) and “Sound Medicine” (Harper Collins, 2020); is a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine and is a highly sought-after speaker, researcher and adviser for Healthy Directions. She is the former director of Wellspring Health in Scripps Memorial Hospital, where she successfully combined conventional treatments with Ayurvedic practices of detoxification, diet and lifestyle management to help patients effectively manage chronic neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and migraine headaches. Her program was so successful that it is now used for a wide range of health concerns, including weight issues and chronic disease. Through her integrative approach, Chaudhary teaches her patients about the connection between mind, body and spirit, which impacts every aspect of health both physically and mentally. Learn more at www.DrKChaudhary.com.
Article: Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary, MD – author of The Prime