Ashwagandha for depression: Is It Proven to Help?

Ashwagandha for depression

Ashwagandha for depression In today’s hexagonal and competitive life, stress has become very common in everyone's life, in today’s rush full lifestyle, a person can get stressed due to many reasons such as the stress of the job, the stress of the exam or promotion, and any family problem can cause stress. Although these stresses are not completely bad, if stress is not managed properly, then stress can cause depression or chronic stress.

This chronic stress effect person overall health badly and cause many diseases like high BP, anxiety, and other Stress-related problems.

So to prevent these stress-related issues people use many supplements. In this article, we are going to know about one of the best natural stress relievers known as ashwagandha.

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What is Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is also known as Withania, somnifera, poison gooseberries, Indian ginseng and Indian winter cherry, etc.  

Ashwagandha originated from India and In Sanskrit Ashwagandha =Ashwa+Gandha, Ashwa means horse and Gandha means Smell.

Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic supplement that has been used in treating depression, mental illnesses, and other stress-related issues for thousands of years and has minimal side effects. And the basic function of Ashwagandha is to help to boost energy, improve the sleep cycle, and reduce stress

Ashwagandha is the most common and most popular herb of Ayurveda (traditional medicine system of using herbs and plants) of India 

Ashwagandha belongs to the nightshade or Solanaceae family.  Ashwagandha has been used for thousands of years as a medicine for different types of diseases such as symptoms of depression anxiety over thinking and chronic diseases etc. 

Ashwagandha is a plant and usually, it consumed in the powder form by mixing it with water, milk or honey.

Ashwagandha extract boosts the function of the nervous system, brain function and also helps to improve sexual health

 Ashwagandha improves the male sperm quality and testosterone level. ashwagandha also has some anti-stress properties which help to reduce the stress by boosting mood and also helps in the treatment of mental problems like depression and anxiety overthinking etc

Also read :- 8  Amazing Lesser Known Facts About Depression

How does Ashwagandha work on mental health?

Ashwagandha is a very beneficial herb, it has many uses and Ashwagandha affects mental health positively in many ways such as by boosting mood, by reducing cortisol hormone level, by improving physical strength, by improving the immune system, by improving blood sugar level, and many others ways which help in the treatment of mental illness such as depression and other stress-related problems because cortisol hormone levels play an important role in mental health and the imbalance of cortisol is the main factor for developing depression and other stress-related issue such as anxiety

One of the most exciting discoveries has been where studies have shown that Ashwagandha has the ability to stimulate neurogenesis - the birth of new brain cells. Remember, for many years scientists believed that the brain was fixed from birth and we had no ability to grow new brain cells.

Also read:-Does super brain yoga work for depression

 This was more recently proven to be incorrect, with the discovery that the brain is plastic, retaining the ability to change and grow with repeated experience. It appears to achieve this via multiple pathways however one of the most interesting is Ashwagandha’s ability to increase activity of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) - your brain’s own internal fertilizer for neurons. What is most interesting is that Ashwagandha, along with its Ayurvedic cousin curcumin, is one of the few known natural substances that increases levels of BDNF.

 As an aside, still the most powerful way to increase BDNF is through cardiovascular exercise and strength training - as if you didn’t need another reason to exercise right? Rodents that were given Ashwagandha for period before being given an induced stroke (take a moment to think of all the poor mice and rats that have suffered in the name of science) were found to retain certain types of brain function better than rodents who were not given Ashwagandha. 

This appears to be due to increased oxygenation and reduced lipid (fat) peroxidation-induced damage.

Also read :- Is Depression Curable? How to Manage Symptoms

What is depression

Depression is a mental health illness that affects the person’s thoughts, body, and moods. It can affect even the way you sleep and eat, the way you feel and the way you think.

Common symptoms of depression are

  • Worthlessness
  • Emptiness
  • Sad mood
  • Difficulty in decision making
  • Disturbance in sleep (insomnia or hypersomnia)
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Change in appetite weight loss or gain.

Some common causes of depression

The main reason of depression is the hormonal imbalance in brain specially imbalance of serotonin dopamine and norepinephrine hormones can lead to depression.

Some other causes

  • Major diseases like cancer, chronic pain etc.
  • Death of loved one
  • Abuse
  • Social and personal relationship

 Depression is a common mental illness in today’s stressful and rush full life. Ashwagandha helps to improve mental health by reducing stress and making the mind relaxed

 Ashwagandha has some antioxidant properties which help to reduce the level of cortisol hormone.

Cortisol hormone is a stress hormone and person abdominal glands release it which cause stress and it is also responsible for the reduction of sugar level.

depression is a very common mental illness in today’s stressful and rush full life. Ashwagandha helps to improve mental health problems such as depression by reducing stress and making feel calm.

Also read:-Clinical Depression: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

Ashwagandha and Depression

Ashwagandha acts in a similar way to calm down the nervous system as the antidepressants. This shows that Ashwagandha acts by enhancing the activity of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid),

In studies, Ashwagandha also appears to have multiple actions on the brain’s dopamine level. 

Ashwagandha herb improves the serotonin level in a complex way. This may be another explanation for the antidepressant effects of Ashwagandha.

Modern SSRI antidepressants usually work by increasing serotonin levels throughout the brain. Ashwagandha appears to enhance the activity of certain sub-types of serotonin receptors 

Ashwagandha also contains bioactive compounds and thereby exerts immunomodulatory activities, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and which help to reduce the level of cortisol hormone.

Also read:Vitamins And Supplements To Help Treat Depression

Side effects of Ashwagandha

  • Consumption of Ashwagandha can cause excessive sleepiness, so always keep in mind that it should be taken before bedtime
  • Excess intake of ashwagandha can also cause stomach related issues like gas and stomach pain.
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach upset problem
  • It can cause low BP or low sugar level
  • Can irritate stomach ulcer people who have ulcers do not use Ashwagandha.


The answer to this query will vary from person to person and also depends on the recommendation of your doctor.

However, for general use, for normal individuals, for most age groups, a dose of 500mg-1gm/day would be enough

Taking Ashwagandha every day, would help to pervent or to treat depression and other stress related problems

 But take ashwagandha before bed, as some people feels sleepyhead after taking ashwagandha.

Like the majority of herbal treatments, Ashwagandha is relatively safe.  Again, like most drugs and herbs, pregnant women should avoid taking Ashwagandha, as the effects on the unborn foetus are as yet unknown.


An overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of ayurveda. (n.d.). PubMed Central (PMC).

Adaptogenic and anxiolytic effects of Ashwagandha root extract in healthy adults: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical study. (n.d.). PubMed Central (PMC).

A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of Ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. (2012). PubMed Central (PMC).

An investigation into the stress-relieving and... : Medicine. (n.d.). LWW.

An alternative treatment for anxiety: A systematic review of human trial results reported for the ayurvedic herb Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera). (1, December). PubMed Central (PMC).

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