In the run up to World Mental Health Day, which was yesterday, sad news trickled in. Asha Bhosle’s daughter Varsha had committed suicide by shooting herself in the head. Like many victims of depression, who feel a black cloud of sadness surmount them, Varsha found it too hard to live and thought it easier to end her life instead.
The incident is a wake up call to all of us to help those who suffer from depression. Newspapers went on an overdrive after the issue to note that Varsha’s affliction was treatable. And that’s the truth: Depression is treatable.
In this piece by Nirmalya Dutta, the author talks about the various kinds of depression and how to transcend the symptoms. She writes: “One of the most effective non-medicated treatments for depression is sharing with your loved ones. ”
Also, when all else seems to be failing there is no harm in visiting a counseller or psychiatrist. While anti-depressants do not work for everyone, they do work in chronic cases and there is no taboo in popping a pill.
But what do you watch out for? Overdoing the intake of nicotine and caffeine, and lack of sleep can be major causes of depressive symptoms. In such cases dealing with the disorder at the root can stop the black cloud from taking over.
It may also help to develop a hobby or vigorously exercise. Strenuous exercise releases ‘feel-good hormones’ called endorphins that can help tackle symptoms of overwhelming sadness.
According to Dutta, there are basically four types of depression: Clinical or Major depression, Bipolar or Manic-depressive disorder, Postpartum depression (depression after delivery of child) and Seasonal affective disorder (It usually doesn’t affect people who live in tropical climates like India.)
Common symptoms of major depression include – despair and loneliness, unwillingness to do the simplest tasks, low energy levels, recurring nightmares and sleep disorders, loss of libido and appetite. These symptoms usually last for over two months.
Bipolar disorder on the other hand is a cyclical disorder characterised by two phases – a manic phase and a depressive phase. In the manic phase, the patient is likely to suffer from delusions of grandeur, excessive self-confidence, feeling of euphoria and higher sexual drive while the depressive phase is very similar to the aforementioned symptoms of major depression.
But no type of depression is untreatable.
Considering that 1.8 lakh Indians commit suicide every year and there are 20 times more attempts, means at least 36 lakh people in India are surely suffering from major depressive disorder, writes Dutta.
These are just the statistics. The numbers could be more overwhelming.
There is no harm in seeking help from any quarter, but the biggest help can be you. The first step towards that is waking up from denial.