Aug 27, 2020
‘…”I don’t have the luxury of being depressed”, says Salman Khan’, reading the headline on a news item. Of course bhai is there solely to give others depression! Oh wait, that’s his driver’s job. Jokes apart, depression is nothing to joke about. Or any other illness for that matter.
Many a debate around depression exists today, more than ever, given the circumstances in the world. People treat depression like an abnormality. It is not. It is like any other illness. When one gets a flu, do the others question the person’s sanity? Of course not. Depression like any other illness must be treated the same way. Depression patients are looked at like they are psychopaths or serial killers. They are definitely not. Mental health has a lot of stigma around it, more so in India. People resort to all kinds of tantra-mantra, ‘jhaad-phook’ even to cure depression. All this is due to sheer ignorance and lack of education.
Our body is a marvellous creation by the creator, but it has its maintenance issues. Depression may be characterized by a sense of loneliness, sadness, emptiness and despair. All these emotions exist in every human being to a certain extent. But when the degree of these emotions starts taking a toll on a person, they have some physiological manifestations. So depression is a disease with actual physical symptoms that require medication. People diagnosed with clinical depression have symptoms like sleeplessness or too much sleep (no, our teenagers are not depressed-they just sleep a lot!), problems with digestion, pain in parts of the body for no apparent reason, breathlessness, some have known to feel a knot in the stomach and even have suicidal thoughts.
If celebrities who have everything going for them can go through depression, then anyone can. Just like anyone can get the flu. Nobody can put a finger on how it starts. There may be a trigger or may not. Triggers include recent stressful events like loss of a loved one, breaking of a relationship, financial losses etc. Even addiction to drugs and alcohol cause depression.
Ayurveda teaches that every emotion is related to an organ of the body. Prolonged sorrow or grief can damage the lungs. Excessive fear makes the kidneys weak. Rage or anger makes muscles tenser and stiff. All illnesses must be treated suitably, and so even depression. Since the mind and body are interconnected, the treatment must be psychosomatic. Psyche means the mind and soma means the body. This is where psychological therapy comes in. What a person may not be able to tell a close relative or friend, he or she may confide in a professional. Further, there is no shame in admitting that one needs therapy. When a car breaks down, one is not ashamed of taking it to the garage.
All said and done, depression is not the end of the world. Neither is psychiatry an exact science nor are psychiatrists gods. Medication has its side effects and cannot be relied upon permanently. Since every mind is as unique as one’s DNA, it is not easy either. Loved ones need to be there for the affected with patience and understanding. With a little professional and personal help, wonders can be done.
Family members must be a close-knit unit, aware of every member’s mood and change in temperament. Any recent change in behaviour may be readily noticed then. It is easier when the illness is at an early stage. A stitch in time saves nine. Sadly in today’s fast-paced times, people have the world at their fingertips but are blissfully ignorant of the goings-on in their own home and family. Maybe if there was an app for measuring emotions, we would be more mindful of our loved one’s mental health.
Let’s not go around giving all sorts of unwanted advice on depression. We may not be able to help every depression patient. What we can do is start at home with family and friends. Be more kind. #LoveIsKey. Love conquers all. Let’s not be insensitive like Salman. Remember depression can be cured, stupidity cannot!