Depression and Other Mental Health Problems In India

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The world woke up to the shocking news of demise of celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain. He taught us to fall in love with food and took us on rollercoster adventures. He was a role model for many young people around the world. A traveller, chef, writer and a unique storyteller made him one of a kind and a youth icon for many.

He was found dead at a hotel in France where he was preparing for his shoot. On June 9th he decided to give up his life using the belt of the bathrobe to hang himself up. The reason of death is believed to be suicide. He had opened up about his unhappy soul in an interview with ‘The Guardian’ last year. There are many like him who are still out there who might need our help but we often choose to ignore such problems. But mental problems do exist and they can be life threatening if not treated on time.

As the girl walks to her class for her 10 am lecture she passes the poster on her college wall, the poster said ‘Mental illness can happen to anyone REACH OUT if disease doesn’t discriminate why should you’. The bleak girl stood there staring at the poster. She has been through this path a lot of times, seen the poster too but never did she actually think about mental health problems. She stood there for a little while till she realized she would be late for her lecture.

More too often we are given pamphlets and first aid kits for physical injury, taught about them in schools, by our elders, taught the national helpline in terms of any emergency but never do we mention that there could be mental health problems too.

On her way back she saw the poster again, this time thoroughly reading every line, printing each word in her mind then went home and researched it inside out. She thought feeling down from time to time is a normal part of life, only now she knew when emotions such as hopelessness and despair take hold and just won’t go away, it is depression. Later that day she visited a psychiatrist with her mother and started the treatment of her mother. Her mother was suffering from postpartum depression for 18 years now.

In India, one out of every twenty people suffer from depression, nearly 60 million suffer from mental health problems and there are less that 4000 doctors to treat them. And while there is still awareness and treatment centers in the urban areas, the rural areas still bleed with people being chained to their beds and iron rods for god’s punishments for their past sins. But even while talking about the urban areas we are forgetting that there is a difference between awareness and understanding-while people know that such thing exists, it is still a taboo for most of us. Some people are lucky to get treated on time, some are too coward to expect things like that happening to them, some are aware but think they could be cured without any help and some are fighting their community for god’s punishment to them.

Depression, bulimia, bipolar disorder, anxiety, schizophrenia are not just names that people should add to their dictionaries to be aware. They are problems that normal people like you and I suffer and they can be deadly serious, just like any serious physical injury. If it could affect more than one crore people it could affect you and me as well. Its time we start acting for people around us and being more sensitive towards issues that bother mankind. Its time we reach out!


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