Is depression in India coming out of the closet? Are we sitting on a time bomb?
Over the last few months I have had the privilege of working closely as an advisor and mentor with a firm in the healthcare space that has brought in a technology enabled game changing way of helping people suffering from depression, stress or relationship issues reach out and connect with experts in a much more convenient and anonymous and private way than ever before.
What this experience and the deep internal discussions have given me as a layman is a peep into how crazy the scenario in India looks. Here are some of those scary statistics
- Suicide is one of the top three causes of death among the young in the age group of 15-35 years with India accounting for 32% of world suicides.
- A NIMHANS study says 36 % techies in Bangalore show signs of psychiatric disorder.
- According to reports 50% employees in Corporate India are under stress: 30% have problems such as addictions and marital discord. 20% suffer from depression.
- WHO report suggests India “most depressed” country in the world.
- WHO 2012 shows 10 million cases of depression in India.
- Depression among the youth has increased from 2% to 12% in the last five years.
- Globally 3 out of every 5 visits to the doctor are for stress related problems.
- Govt. of India reports 1 in 5 Indians suffer mental health problems
Hardly a day goes without the local news talking of some suicides. And that is only the tip of the iceberg at the extreme end of the spectrum when the victim feels all is lost. What about the millions of others silently suffering from the stigma, from family and societal pressures, from not wanting to share their issue with the experts or maybe from not even knowing that they are suffering from depression?
India got a taste of a celebrity actress Deepika Padukone very recently coming out of the closet and sharing openly in the media – news articles and interviews that got widely publicized, about her experiences, about how she felt on certain days and how her world and the way her mind and body responded seemed unfamiliar.
She of course was lucky to have faced it, got family support and the right medical and expert help on time. And took it upon herself to use her celebrity status and the media to spread awareness that depression is indeed nothing to be ashamed about.
The definition of depression I came across said – Depression, in psychology, amood or emotional state that is marked by feelings of low self-worth or guilt and a reduced ability to enjoy life. A person who is depressed usually experiences several of the following symptoms: feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or pessimism; lowered self-esteem and heightened self-depreciation; a decrease or loss of ability to take pleasure in ordinary activities; reduced energy and vitality; slowness of thought or action; loss of appetite; and disturbed sleep or insomnia.
And another speaks about the relationship between stress and depression– A cause-and-effect relationship exists between stress and depression. Struggling with unrelenting stress increases the potential for depression. On the flip side, depression lowers the ability to cope, and any small daily challenge may trigger unusually high stress. Ongoing stress results in continuously elevated levels of biochemicals, and that leads to medical conditions, including depression.
Mental Health problem pervades India including a very high % of employees in Corporate India. Corporate & Young India is suffering from significant mental health issues
And it is not too difficult to figure out the causes for this over the last decade – starting with academic and competitive exam pressures exerted on children to excel, the stress of admissions right from the start , peer pressure at colleges and at work, high pressure 24×7 work environments and deadlines, pressure to earn and spend and earn more and spend more and fall into an emi trap to build assets early , lower levels of job security and satisfaction, marital stress of managing a nuclear family or managing within a larger family …the list goes on.
Tolerance levels too have dropped very significantly due to all these factors and it’s much easier to cross the tipping point to relationship, stress and depression these days as compared to what it might have been a few years or a decade ago. Fragility has increased and it’s so much more common to see more people crack up.
Coming back to the topic of this article – Is depression in India finally coming out of the closet? Are we sitting on a time bomb? The answer to the first question maybe a feeble yes .. and to the second a strong YES .
Access to help and removal of the stigma for any silently suffering can be the key to addressing these issues before the volcano blows out. The onus also passes onto the academicians, the corporate leaders, the immediate and extended families and close friends and colleagues to sense the early signals of withdrawal and to play a more supportive role in defusing this crisis that is already staring us in the face in India today.
There is hope and light at the end of the tunnel and the strength of this country which is the youth must get the right environment and support systems and groups to help them navigate the landmines along their journey of life.
If you like this article or have different thoughts on this topic do share your like and comments to help build a discussion around it. And do feel free to share this article with your contacts who might also like the read and benefit from it.