India lacks information on Depression but is the most depressed country in the world
Namrata Munoth, INN/Chennai
India, a land rich in culture, has history dating back five millennia, is home to 35 UNESCO recognised World Heritage sites like the monumental masterpiece: “The Taj Mahal”, and is the largest democracy in the world. It is also today the fastest growing major economy in the world. But do we know the dark reality of this country that is camouflaged by these rosy laurels? According to the World Health Organisation, our country is the most depressed country in the world. 36% i.e. one in every three Indians suffers from depression, and 370 people give up to this disease and kill themselves each day. These figures are sure shocking and deeply saddening, but do we know what depression is and how we can help those suffering from it? For those of us who aren’t familiar to this disease, depression is a disease of the mind. When a person is depressed, he or she is sad for no apparent reason. This sadness is different from the normal episodes of sadness and grief we all go through in our lives because this is persistent sadness that lasts for a longer time. The ability of such people to think logically, get over the sadness, and change their mood is greatly reduced. Their life seems worthless to them, and they begin to feel that they aren’t good at anything in life: low self esteem. This individual then begins to feel helpless and lonely and what comes at the end of all this after a period of time: suicide.
“Disease of the Mind”, these words would have sure struck you in a not so favourable sense. This is unfortunately the impression we all have about mental health issues be it depression or anything else. But why? Why do we look at diseases of the mind from a different lens? Can the human body function without the brain? Surely not. Isn’t the brain another organ of the human body? Of course it is. The reason why depressed individuals end up giving their lives is that they feel helpless and are unable to change their emotional state, they feel their life has no meaning, and they find death to be the best solution to all of this. A healthy mind can surely change a depressed person’s life for the better and make him/her fall in love with themselves and value their life just with the help of conversation. But because of the unfavourable attitude of people towards mental health diseases and due to the fear of being judged, depressed individuals never speak about their depression and struggle alone with this dark and debilitating disease. They even refrain from seeking medical help for this very reason. Is it worth it to keep this attitude at the cost of so many lives?
Curing depression is a long process. Medication, psychotherapy or a combination of the two is used to treat it. But we can also surely help in more than one way. The first way is by changing our attitude. Being more sensitive towards this disease and its sufferers, not making fun of them, not looking at them differently, etc can go a long way in encouraging depression patients to share what and how they feel with others around them. It is often presumed that depressed individuals make a big deal about a problem that they can easily cure themselves, but unfortunately that’s not the case. In most cases, this disease cannot be cured without outside help just like it is with heart diseases or diabetes. The second way to help is to make the person like their own self. Every person has some strengths, good qualities and achievements, . And highlighting what you really like in them will make them feel good about themselves. But be sure to list real things and have patience, because a person so low in self-esteem is sure to disbelieve it or will need a good reason to believe it. Give them a hug, be loving towards them, listen to their problems, try to understand them and don’t judge them. Depression is a very dark disease and only those who suffer from it really can understand how terrible it is. Many popular figures like celebrated Olympian Michael Phelps, Princess Diana of Wales and Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone just to name a few have suffered from depression. Today, let us all resolve to add some color to the grey lives of depressed people and make a change to save a life.