June 7, 2019
India is witnessing a transition in disease patterns. While diseases such as cholera, small pox and tuberculosis dominated the scene until a few decades ago , we are witnessing a phenomenal rise in the non-communicable diseases- these are diseases which do not spread from one person to another by coughing, sneezing, touching or close contact. The major non communicable diseases are diabetes mellitus (high blood sugar), hypertension ( high blood pressure), Cardiovascular diseases(Heart problems) cancers and mental illness. While all other diseases are seen as chronic illness, mental illness is seen as a social stigma.
Depression is one of the commonest illnesses affecting the community. The World Health Organization says one in four people would have had symptoms of depression at least once in their lifetime. We also observe that even children especially in the adolescent age group also suffer from depression. Depression leads to disability, loss of jobs and at worst can lead to suicides. The second commonest cause of death between 15-29 year olds is suicide.
The major causes of depression are environmental factors, stress, social reasons and familial. The disease is characterised by persistent sadness with lack of interest in things that one usually enjoys and also not performing regular daily activities for over two weeks.
In addition, there is sudden loss of socialization, lack of energy, increased sleepiness and feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or hopelessness; and thoughts of self-harm or even committing suicide. If any of your dear ones–be it adult or child– exhibits these symptoms do not hesitate to seek medical help. If symptoms worsen it may lead to harm to self or others. It is often left undiagnosed due to lack of awareness or not acknowledging the symptoms fearing social stigmatization.
Acknowledging the symptoms of depression in self or recognising these in others is very crucial. Timely consultation with a psychiatrist is a must. It is a treatable condition and a supportive nurturing environment with socialization and involvement in physical activity like brisk walking etc in addition to doctor’s consultation and compliance with medication is all that is required.
Yes, go ahead and open that Pandora’s Box – it is OK to seek help!