Let’s Talk About Mental Health Issues

Mental health talk is anything but easy to talk about. How can I talk about depression when I have a well-paying job? Or if people know that I’m prone to anxiety, will that affect my appraisal? Some even assume talking about mental health may affect their marriage prospects! These are legitimate concerns to talking about mental health issues. Well, not talking about it keeps you in the dark.

Ignorance is definitely not bliss when it comes to your overall health. It’s time we address the pink elephant in the room and that elephant could be depressed, may have a bipolar disorder or could be stressed to the core.

A study by the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 6% of Indian population, regardless of being urban or rural, suffers from a serious form of mental disease. It may seem small, but this figure is likely to increase every year.

Some Legitimate Concerns

A mentally fit person may experience high cholesterol or low blood pressure. In a similar way, a perfectly healthy person may face some minor mental issues. You don’t necessarily have to swing on either side of the pendulum. That is going extreme, although major mental health issues need immediate treatment. Nevertheless, it is not a question of either or. You can be a normal person with minor health issues which is more likely treatable too.

If you or your loved one struggles with anxiety, depression or other mental health issues, it doesn’t mean they are lesser human beings. Just like a person with diabetes can be mentally strong, a person with mental health issues can be physically fit too.

Another concern is that people with mental health issues tend to be violent. This is not true at all. Many picture a mentally ill patient getting electric shock treatments and living in mental asylums. You must know that poverty, drug abuse, etc. are actually the contributing factors to violent crimes. People with mental health issues are not violent.

Bad parenting affecting mental health is a legitimate concern. This is a big weight of worrying parents who want to give their best to children. You must know that children with the best upbringing may also suffer from mental health issues. That has nothing to do with parenting styles but everything to do with genes or their external and internal interactions.

In that context, mental health issues are never a reflection of the person’s moral character. It’s not because of voodoo or black magic; personality or anxiety disorders, depression, and other mental illnesses can result from a hormonal or neurological imbalance in your body, for example how postpartum depression after childbirth.

The Unseen Struggles

Mental health issues are often bolted deep and never talked about or even thought about in our society. Addiction to smoking, alcohol or even self-medication is a common struggle. If you feel depressed or stressed, it is easier to go have a smoke or drink alcohol. It “treats” your pain for the moment. Excessive use of any substance, even coffee for that matter, is a big problem. To be honest, not everyone takes their mental health needs seriously these days. Is it because there are no “visible” signs of mental illness? It is not like getting a fever or stomach ache. Many avoid getting treatment because of this. So that should not stop you from getting help, getting treatment for your mental health issues.

Work as a Contributing Factor

Everyone faces a lot of stress at every walk of life. Think about the baby who is just learning how to walk. They stand up and wobble to find their balance and plop! They are on the floor, again. Babies are resilient that way; they get up and try again. It must frustrate you but this kind of stress in small doses is good. It motivates you and this is the exact stress that boosts productivity at workplaces. You don’t have to imagine what stress at long period does to your mental and physical health. With long working hours, short weekends, unreasonable deadlines you eventually burn out and break yourself, right? And to think this innuendo is costing employers $300 billion a year!

A Supportive Workplace

It makes more business sense to prioritise employees’ well-being. The staff that works in a supportive environment with approachable HR representatives, line managers, and senior managers are more likely to be engaged, productive, and loyal. This is more to do with encouraging employees to openly talk about their mental issues, than being polite or following policies.

Students, employees, employers, entrepreneurs, mompreneurs, mothers, toddlers, everyone faces a lot of pressure these days. Pressure to excel, pressure to perform, pressure to make more profits and the pressure to raise kids in an expensive digital world. While some want to conquer the world, their mental health issues are put on a back burner. If you are under a lot of stress, it’s time to get help before it’s too late. Do you or your loved ones struggle with mental health issues? Remember, with counseling and therapy, these issues are treatable. Tell your loved ones you worry about their health. Be encouraged to adopt the right treatment for mental health problems.

Know Depression, If You Ever Have to Face It

A study conducted by the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) on “Preventive Healthcare: Impact on Corporate Sector” reveals something very shocking – it states that around 42.5 percent of the corporate employees suffer from depression or general anxiety disorder! This report is based on the view of 1,250 corporate employees across companies in different sectors.

Several other studies show that at some or the other point in their lives, 10-25% women and 5-12% of men are likely to be clinically depressed. So much so, that doctors and researchers have even started referring to it as a ‘common cold’. It not only causes difficulty for those who suffer from it but also puts their friends and family members in a paralytic situation because of not knowing how they can help.

So what exactly is clinical depression? It is more than just experiencing temporary feelings of sadness or anxiety. It’s a condition in which the victim’s mind and body are severely affected, impacting aspects of his daily life such as eating, sleeping, working, relationships, and what he thinks of himself. What is worse is that there is no way they can simply force themselves to feel better or snap out of their situation. Lack of appropriate treatment can keep them suffering for weeks, months or even years.

However, the upside of it is that once the person accepts or knows that he is depressed, very effective treatments are available for his treatment. Only one-third of the people suffering from it know about it and are ready to seek treatment. Truth is that 80-90% of those who seek treatment can feel better just within a few weeks. But the problem lies in acceptance. People feel that being depressed is a result of personal weakness or a flaw in the character. This is just a myth. Similar to other diseases like diabetes or heart problems, depression is an illness that needs to be treated by a health professional or physician.

There are various types of depression such as Major Depressive Disorder, Dysthymic Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Cyclothymic Disorder, mood disorder due to a general medical condition, Substance-Induced Mood Disorder, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), Postpartum Depression, or Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. Some of these are the milder forms of it while some have some major side effects and need a close diagnosis. To identify the issue, you need to know the symptoms of depression. Here are some of the common symptoms:

  • Feelings of sadness, anxiety or emptiness
  • Low levels of energy and fatigue
  • Losing interest in activities that were once enjoyable
  • Insomnia or oversleeping
  • Losing weight or appetite, or gaining weight and overeating
  • Feeling hopeless and pessimistic
  • Feeling helpless and worthless
  • Attempting suicide
  • Finding it difficult to concentrate, make decisions or remember
  • Restlessness, irritability, and perpetual crying

People who are depressed may not always experience all of the above symptoms. Some may have many and some may have just a few. If you or any of your closed ones happen to experience some of them for a long period of time or have doubts about whether it is depression or not, it is best to consult a physician or qualified mental health professional and get it diagnosed.

Being depressed can have some serious adverse effects on the life of the sufferer. It can end up impairing their ability to sleep, eat, work, and act normal in a social environment. It can damage their self-esteem, self-confidence, and the ability to perform daily tasks. They may tire easily, not get a good night’s sleep, and have no motivation left in life.

So keeping a daily check on health and consulting the doctor at the right time in case of any of the symptoms is the best thing to do, rather than sulking in the situation and making it worse with every passing day.

“I fell flat on my head. I touched rock bottom”

Avanika Mote recalls how a wonderful morning turned rainy and one little misstep led to a brain injury that changed the way she saw life forever
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A CT scan image of sudural hematoma image courtesy: wikipedia.org
A CT scan image of sudural hematoma
image courtesy: wikipedia.org

It was a weekend and we were jamming till the wee hours for a concert. The twilight at dawn was ethereal. It was so beautiful I ran up to the terrace with my camera to shoot the sky. The moment, however, seemed to be fickle – soon dark grey clouds seemed to come out of nowhere. Before I could shoot the next picture, it started to rain. I clicked a quick one and started walking down the staircase. The rain was terrible. The entire staircase was wet. With the intention to save my camera from getting wet, I walked fast and fell off an entire flight of stairs. Flat on my head. I touched rock bottom. I have no memory of what happened next.

The next thing I remember: lying in my bed, trying to breathe. My head didn’t feel like it existed. The pillow was stained with blood. I regained consciousness and realised I had hurt my head real bad. The inflammation was such that I felt like I had three heads. Weird and awfully painful.

I was lucky to have my friend around. He applied Soframycin on my head injury, which was still bleeding. Since it was a Sunday, most clinics had shorter days and it was tough to locate a doctor nearby. By this time, while the local bleeding had stopped, the pain was excruciating.

We finally managed to get an appointment with a doctor I often go to for minor events like muscle sprains, fevers, etc. He inspected my injury, gave me a tetanus shot and a few painkillers. I was okay with the tablets as they reduced the pain, but the head cramps and disorientation haunted me. Continue reading “I fell flat on my head. I touched rock bottom”

Don’t let stress beat you. Here’s how to live above it

By Uday Patil
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stressfreeWe live in stressful times. We put up with heavy workloads and battle with deadlines. By the time we come home and it is time to dine, we don’t feel that excited about it anymore. Sleep doesn’t come easy and the morning starts with a rush to reach office on time. Continuing such a lifestyle is bad for your heart and head. The only resources we have are our health and the 24 hours of a day to handle the needs of survival.

So, what does it mean to be stressed?

Stress is a response of the nervous system to situations that seem beyond one’s control. It is the internalised result of external overloads. The clinical meaning of stress refers to a situation that disturbs a person’s mental health. This may lead to other mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression. Continue reading Don’t let stress beat you. Here’s how to live above it

Beat the Monday blues. Here’s how you could do it

image courtesy: thedoctorscloset.com
image courtesy: thedoctorscloset.com

Let’s face it: Monday hits all of us sometimes. While there are many gurus, motivators and thinkers who say that if we really love our work there should be no such thing as Monday blues, for regular walking-talking folks out there work is not always the biggest draw, day in and day out. After the weekend, especially if you have a life outside of the office (which is a great thing by the way), getting back to your desk on Mondays can be bit of a drag. Mondays come with its own pitfalls: demanding bosses, deadlines, goals (some of it too abstract to make sense), swipe-ins and swipe-outs, lunch hours etc…. basically a set of rules we program ourselves to follow, but are not really keen on. With a salary staring at us from the end of the tunnel, the whole problem is harder to deal with for some of us. But wouldn’t it be wonderful if we didn’t have to fight Mondays as much as we generally have to? Here’s a quick guide to easing out the Mondays blues and welcoming the week with some semblance of joie de vivre:

If it is too bad, review what you are doing

First things first. If getting back to work on Monday pulls you down so badly that you cannot function without feeling depressed consistently, week after week, the problem is more serious than just Monday blues. It needs fixing. It is a sign that you are unhappy at work. Make a list of things that are not letting you function like yourself, and address them. If you are not yourself, you can’t function normally. This could, in really serious cases, could be a sign of depression. You need to find out what is bothering you and take proactive action to beat your blues. The usual Monday blues don’t hit you consistently. The sign of regular Monday blues is that you are aware of it. It should not cripple you. If it does, see a therapist. Continue reading Beat the Monday blues. Here’s how you could do it