Depression is not a Common Cold of the Mind
Very disturbed since last night hearing about a friend, virtual neighbour and former colleague (a contemporary) who has gone missing from his house in (Bombay). Member of the top leadership team of the company - he decided to move on last year anticipating a career dead-end. He went back to his earlier employers - probably taking a pay cut and compromising on the level as well. Prior to that - he had a troubled stint, when he was sent-off to a remote location for a project that should have been handled by someone several notches lower and younger (He is 55). The strain and loneliness of living in the boondocks - for weeks away from the family (2 college going kids and spouse) tensions on the job and toxic bosses - must have taken its toll and, I suspect, he went into acute depression - which was probably aggravated after the job change (and associated loss of self-esteem).
Fast forward. It seems he left his house in shorts, Tee Shirt and Chappals - not even carrying his purse and phone on Thursday and has been untraceable since then.
We are all praying and hoping - he is found and comes back home safe and sound - but the portents are ominous.
The purpose of this post (apart from sharing my grief and mental distress) is to bring home the risks of leaving Depression untreated. Even in educated and affluent circles - we still refuse to recognise Depression as a Mental Health issue. While we're quick to rush to Doctors and Hospitals for other Medical conditions - depression and other mental ailments (such as OCD, Bipolar, Schizophrenia) are still taboo in society.
The problem, of course, is to find a good Mental Health Professional and Therapist. But, thankfully the field is opening up and people are less hesitant to seek help. But, there are still risks of falling into the hands of trigger-happy psychiatrists or indiscriminate use of anti-depressants by General Physicians - who understand little about the subject.
The worst is buying OTC (Over the Counter) medicines like Alprazolam and other anxiety relieving drugs or sedatives that are dispensed freely dispensed by the friendly neighbourhood chemists. These usually have short "half-life" and severe withdrawal symptoms that are often not recognised by patients and lead to further aggravation.
With our present lifestyles, studies, work, family and social pressures - Depression has almost become endemic in society and the work-place. Some call it the "Common Cold of the Mind". While it is fine to advocate - prevention techniques (Meditation, Yoga, Exercise etc) - once afflicted one should not neglect it and it is, arguably, best to go for conventional therapy and seek qualified professional help.
Enlightened and progressive employers and educational institutions - should provide counselling and psychologists on their rolls. Treatment for mental health issues should be supported like any other physical ailment.
But, a big responsibility rests with the family - parents, spouse and even children (if they are grown up). Where friends and colleagues can help - is in making them (or even the families are resistant) overcome the inhibition to go for therapy and treatment.
Time we started recognising depression and other psychological disorders - like any other lifestyle related afflictions - diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol etc - and not leave it unattended.
Please also read and share my earlier piece on the same subject published
in @DailyO_ Click on : Deepika's Dips