Antidepressants are gaining bad press at the moment because of the undesirable side effects they cause.

One of my patients brought me a list of side effects she had suffered, including sweats, bad dreams, a fuzzy head and a difficulty with making decisions. However, some people with severe, depressive illness do require medication to control acute symptoms and prevent suicide.

Antidepressants work by altering the chemical balance of neurotransmitters such as serotonin in the brain. The modern treatment of depression and anxiety is based on pills and psychotherapy but surely there is more we can do ourselves to prevent depression and anxiety and to train doctors in holistic medicine?

I have found my practice of integrated medicine very rewarding both for patients and myself. Combining the power of modern medicine with the gentleness of Ayurvedic herbal medicine and the wisdom of ancient techniques, such as prayer therapy, yogic breathing, meditation and self-help massage, the treatment is very elevating, refreshing and enjoyable, too.

In my opinion, the feeling of isolation and a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem generated by an unhealthy attitude to life is the main cause of depression and anxiety.

I was very fortunate to be brought up in a family which gave me a spiritual thinking -

a positive awareness that I am more than just a physical body, a much more powerful energy full of love and inner strength, a spiritual being connected to a much higher intelligence we call God. It is this awareness of our spiritual being which keeps us alive, happy and confident, helping us to cope when things go wrong and to experience love rather than fear.

A simple holistic programme I have practised in my own life and taught my patients is as follows:

Adopt a healthy routine. Wake up at six
oclock and do a bit of yoga or running and deep yogic breathing. Then, give yourself a brisk head massage (with warm Brahmi, lavender and rosemary oil). This helps to disperse low mood and stimulates you.

Drink a mug of tea with fresh root ginger,
cardamom and a pinch of nutmeg several times a day.

Sit in meditation with chanting for 20

Drink a mug of milk with a teaspoon of
ground almond and a pinch of nutmeg morning and evening.

Give yourself a daily body massage with
warm sesame-seed oil and warm aromatherapy oils such as black pepper and lavender.

Research and my own clinical experience reveal the Ayurvedic medicine called Ashwagandha root extract (Withania somnifera), the herbal wine made from it (Ashwagandha arishtha), Brahmi (Centella asiatica) and ginger to all be safe and effective, natural, herbal alternatives for depression and anxiety - without any side effects.

Dr Milind Jani works as a conventional and
holistic GP and Dr Asmita Jani as Ayurvedic Consultant from 3 Eaton Gardens, Hove.

Call them on: 01273 777448 or email: