New Delhi: The National Mental Health Survey (NMHS) report estimates that 40 million adults are living with depression and anxiety disorders.
Last year, 50-year-old retail entrepreneur Sonia Lall faced a difficult period. One of her stores was closing down even as she struggled to set up another with finances from her business partner.
She says, “I was low. I did not want to meet anyone. I was dragging myself to the factory. I did not want to socialise. My friend advised me to meet a psychiatrist. And I went to him and said these are my symptoms. And he said that you have come in time.”
Ms Lall felt there was no shame in being open about the fact that she was battling depression. “I went around whoever I met and said, “Guys, I’m on anti-depressants.”
To this, my friends said, “Will you stop telling the whole world?” But I don’t think there is any harm when there is medication available to feel better. “There is this whole thing about going to see a shrink and I don’t know why it is like that,” Ms Lall said.
The World Health Organisation’s theme for this year’s World Health Day on April 7 was depression and suicide and the topic was ‘Let’s Talk’.
According to the World Health Organisation, depression affects people of all ages and from all walks of life. Those who are vulnerable to depression include people with an alcohol or drug addiction or those suffering from severe emotional distress, chronic illness or are victims of violence and abuse. Some are vulnerable due to genetic factors.
Sunanda Jalote, 23, Communications and Project Executive, has no hesitation in disclosing that she has dealt with depression.
She says, “It started about 4 years ago, a little bit after one of my close friends from school died. And initially it started with a lot of sleep problems. The quality of my sleep was really bad.”
Puruvi Baraya, 24, was also in school when she went through depression for the first time. A college student now, she says she and a number of her friends have had harrowing experiences of depression.
Ms Baraya said, “More people are talking about depression now. More people are aware that this is what the other people are going through. Maybe the previous generation didn’t do that.”
Depression is an illness, not a sign of weakness. By talking openly about their personal struggles, Sonia Lall, Sunanda Jalote and Puruvi Baraya help reduce the stigma and shame attached to mental illness and depression. It also leads more people to seek support and get better understanding.