Mark Twain once said and I quote “out of all the things I have lost I miss my mind the most.”
At some point in our lives, we all may experience symptoms like sadness, loss of energy and appetite, extreme changes in sleep pattern or lack of pleasure from performing daily activities once enjoyed. For most people, these symptoms are a physical response to an unpleasant and stressful event. Negative feelings are usually painful and overwhelming but as time passes, they become less intense and disappear. It is important to understand though that being sad is not the same as having depression.
The grieving process is natural and subjective to each individual and shares some of the same features of depression. Both grief and depression may involve intense sadness and withdrawal from usual activities.
It’s difficult to understand the concept of depression for many people. For a diagnosis of depression, these symptoms must last for at least two weeks. Another thing to consider is that depression presents itself differently in different kinds of people, making it almost impossible to depict every type.
The stigma of depression results in many misconceptions. It can be dangerous for the person who is suffering from the condition as it might keep them from reaching out to get help with the fear of being shamed and labelled pejoratively.
Depression is ranked as the single largest contributor to global disability. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide and every year over 8,00,000 people die due to suicide, qualifying as the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds.
Looking back at the history of depression in India, according to the World Health Organisation, the National Health Survey 2015-2016 revealed that nearly 15% Indian adults needed active intervention for one or more mental health issues and one in 20 Indians suffered from depression. It was also estimated that in 2012, India had over 2,58,000 suicides, with the age-group of 15-49 years being most affected. It is not at all typical for a person to feel prolonged guilt or worthlessness, self-harm, lack a purpose in life, dwell in loneliness, suffocate and ultimately jump to their freedom. Depression is real.
With reference to the American Psychiatric Association, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a gruesome accident, a terrorist attack, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault.
People with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares; they may feel sadness, fear or anger; and may also feel detached or estranged from other people. People with PTSD tend to avoid situations or people that remind them of the traumatic event, and they may have strong negative reactions to something as ordinary as a loud noise or an accidental touch.
People with PTSD may also be more likely to develop other disorders, such as anxiety disorders, depression or substance abuse problems.
An evaluative diagnosis of PTSD requires exposure to an upsetting traumatic event. Common symptoms include intrusive thoughts, avoiding reminders of the traumatic event, negative thoughts and feelings and arousal and reactive symptoms. If the problems experienced after this exposure continue for more than a month, cause significant problems in the ability to function in social and work settings and negatively impact relationships, a person might happen to be clinically diagnosed with PTSD.
It is not necessary that everyone who experiences trauma develops PTSD and require psychiatric treatment. For some people symptoms of PTSD subside or disappear over time. Others get better with the help of family, friends or clergy. But many people with PTSD need professional treatment to recover from psychological distress that can be intense and disabling.
The stigma around PTSD, in particular, is strong. Stereotypes that depict people with PTSD as dangerous, malfunctioning, unpredictable, or incompetent can promote stigma. They may fear embarrassment and shame, and avoid seeking help.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder may hamper their normal living. The trauma may cause them severe distress, but that distress is not their fault.
As a psychologist, I frequently experience the urgent need for affordable therapy and counselling in India. With the growing cases of mental health disorders, we require not only to spread awareness but also to make these services widely available.
We need to grow out of a society that wrongly normalises the irrelevance of facing psychological disorders and seeking professional help.
Overcoming the stigma of seeking assistance and providing a safe space for people to come out and talk equally play a crucial role in creating a healthier and more functional society.
It is important for us as a growing community to evaluate the depth and causal factors of physical and emotional distress faced, remove associations of shame or disgrace and establish more effective and economical help centres.
Talk to the best psychologist in India or counsellor for any of your friend or relative or family member who is suffering from PTSD or depression or any psychological disorder