Mental health awareness week: anxiety and personality types

With a light this week on mental health awareness, let's talk about one condition, anxiety, from an Ayurvedic point of view. Just like physical conditions, Ayurvedic treatment of mental disorders follows a doshic model.

Vata-type anxiety is a result of excessive nervous activity, too much thinking, worrying, or excessive change. Excess Vata (wind and space energy) in the subtle channels of the mind can cause either too much movement (overthinking, worry about anything and everything) or too little (constriction, anxiety, loneliness). Fear usually underlies Vata-type anxiety.

You need warmth, grounding and nurturing, in your foods, surroundings and the people you choose to be around. Trying to change everything in your lifestyle at once, however, is too overwhelming. See a practitioner, who will guide you. Start with warm oil massage; avoid stimulants like alcohol, caffeine and drugs; do alternate nostril breathing (ask a yoga teacher if you don’t know how to do it); and try Ashwaganda, a herbal remedy that's easily available.

Pitta-type anxiety usually comes from an unwillingness to let go. Pittas want to control their lives and circumstances and feel anxiety when this control is lost. Anger usually underlies Pitta anxiety. What are you angry about? Journaling can help, to see patterns and causes and can then apply reasoning to help you deal with it (Pittas have logical minds). See what’s out of your control, and stop trying to control it. Let it go. The herb Gotu Kola can help.

Kapha-type anxiety is usually caused by loss of possessions or something you were attached to. Family and security are important to you but when there’s excess Kapha there is stagnation and dullness, which can turn this love of family and desire for security into attachment and greed. You need flowing yoga or dynamic exercise. Pranayama is helpful but see a practitioner who is skilled in using pranayama as treatment.

🙏 May all beings be healthy and happy.