Mental Health: Why Depression on the Rise? How Do We Deal with It?
Mental health indeed matters. In a scenario where stress levels have seen a high rise victimizing people of all age groups from all walks of life, symptoms soon turn into depression. And depression when not taken care of may lead to serious consequences including committing of suicides. Today, it is more of a mechanized and virtual world that we are living in where mobile phones, computers, and social media have overtaken us. Connection with real people (friends, family, and relatives), especially when it comes to sharing emotions – both blissful and gloomy moments, seems to be a far-fetched affair.
Amid the COVID pandemic, depression has taken a toll. Everyday news about suicides hit the media space and many cases go unreported. News about film actor and celebrity Sushant Singh Rajpoot, who has been under depression for the last six months, committing suicide hit the headlines and trending on social media. Over the months and years, likewise many TV and film actors committed suicide. A day after the tragic death of Sushant Singh Rajpoot, an IAS officer committed suicide in Delhi.
Why is this happening? Why is depression on the rise? Why are suicidal cases a normal matter today? What is the solution? Why mental health does matter? Depression may arise due to excessive work stress, a failed love affair, a failed career, rejection in marriage, and a lot of many other factors. But depression can be cured. It can be overcome.
Hindu scriptures describe how Yog controls the mind. A controlled mind has no space for stress and depression. Dharma Gurus, Yog experts, meditation healers have time and again spoken about healing the mind through practicing of Yog, meditation, and listening to hymns and mantras.
Our historical epics and Puranic History portray many examples of dukkha, but all who experienced it overcame it. In the Ramayana, Shri Ram, Lakshman, Sita stayed in exile for 14 years, living in hermitages and forests, away from royalty despite being born in the royal family. But they did not complain and returned only after their exile. During the exile, Ravana took away Sita to Lanka that resulted in war. Shri Ram emerged victorious and he rescued Sita. The various episodes show the turbulences they faced and how they overcame it. Urmila stayed in the royal household waiting till her husband Lakshman came back from exile. Likewise in the Mahabharata, the Pandavas were deprived of their royalty and they lost everything. But they overcame all the obstacles they faced in life and at the end, they regained what they lost. Krishna was separated at birth from her mother Devaki to be brought up by his foster-mother Yashoda. The pain and dukkha that Devaki went through at the prison cell where her brother Kansa slaughtered all of her children in front of her eyes, is immense. But she overcame it. Ahilyabai Holkar, the Malwa queen of Indore, decided to end her life in grief when her husband died at a young age. But she lived for her son, then a child. But the only son died at the age of 16 years. Ahilyabai Holkar overcame her dukkha by dedicating her life for the welfare of her people and for Dharma. She undertook restoration of the Char Dhams, restored many temples including Kashi Vishwanath temple destroyed by foreign invaders, besides renovating Jyotirlings, Shaktipeeths, and building many temples and ghats. There are hundreds and thousands of examples from History that proves how dukkha did not affect the sufferer. We need to draw examples from the past.
Here is a compilation of what the general public including psychologists opine about mental health in general and depression in particular and on how to deal with it.
The tragic death of Sushant Singh Rajput has raised a number of questions and will raise many as time goes by. Suicide is a painful act not just for the one who is gone. They go through many painful emotions that they keep hidden inside. It is equally painful for the near and dear ones of the dead person who are left to wonder for the rest of their life the question why and wondering if they were responsible and they could have done something to prevent it.
That the person gone was suffering from depression or loss of work is of little consolation or explanation to the world at large. It always comes as a shock to those around as it fails to explain why the person took this extreme step and didn’t ask for help. Many of us go through depression, loss of job or even face ridicule or utter humiliation in the journey of life without taking this extreme step. Why only some of us chose to commit suicide is a puzzle that remains unsolved and that is why the act of suicide has been called an act mystery for all those who commit it. It is a mystery that never gets solved.
One factor that has been linked to suicide is despair and hopelessness. When the person feels that there is no hope left for him. Today, with this tragic death, we must send this message to all those who are affected by it that we must always remind ourselves that there is always hope.
– Dr. Rajat Mitra.
We live in difficult times, where information is mistaken for knowledge, and being self-obsessed is eulogised as ‘individuality’.
After a point, information overwhelms everyone. It doesn’t empower. It merely makes people feel lost and forlorn. The ‘space’ that you fought so hard for, becomes a prison, and loneliness gnaws from within.
Depression is real, but there are ways to deal with this dukkha, to get over the feeling of emptiness. Research has shown that people who have a loving, supportive network of family and friends are emotionally secure and able to deal with stress better. Your family is your bulwark.
At the end of the day, everyone wants someone to put a hand on his/her shoulder and reassure that ‘everything will be okay’.
It may or may not be true, but it gives people the strength to sleep well and fight another day. That ‘someone’ can be a spouse, a parent, a significant other, a sibling a friend or it can be your spiritual Guru, or your Ishtadevta. Having faith in someone or something protects people from wandering aimlessly in an emotional desert, looking for an oasis of solace.
We all need such emotional anchors in our lives, but take a hard look at yourself, and ask, can you be that ‘someone’ for other people? Maybe your children need that assurance, maybe your parents do, a neighbour, a friend, an elderly couple living in your neighbourhood, maybe they need you.
Everyone is confused right now, confused, overwhelmed and stressed out. If you zoom out of the problems and stresses of your own life, you will see that there are many who could be helped with your consoling words and support. It is essential to find a purpose to deal with the stress, that and a feeling of gratitude.
– Shefali Vaidya
Mananat trayete iti mantra. This is the grammatical definition of mantra which literally means mantra is that which protects you from the cogitations of the mind. This means that by definition Vedic mantras manifested through Rishis during divine experience inherently have divine energies that have an effect on our causal, subtle and physical bodies. So disturbed mental states which can have an disrupt our physical system can be relieved by the vibrations of mantras and in our Gurukul in Varanasi, International Chandramauli Charitable Trust. We have seen the positive impact on children and even children with special needs and learning difficulties.
They are not just an ordinary vibration but vibrations from Paramatma designed to reveal the knowledge of reality ie ekatvamanupashytah realising the unity in diversity and realising our real self. Mantras dissolve the cover of ignorance taking us closer to our real selves and ultimately reveal that just as the waves (jivatma) in the ocean (Paramatma) are not separate neither are we separate from our real selves and we become stable in ourselves. The definition in Sanskrit of swastha (healthy) is swa tishtati ie stable in your self and that is why mantra is a powerful tool and restoring mental health and balance by bringing us closer to our real selves and becoming centred beyond the pairs of opposites.
In the last few years, research has been coming out called the “Harvard Effect” showing the positive effects on grey matter in the brains of Vedacharyas who appeared to have more grey matter than the control group. No doubt there will be more and more scientific research on the power of mantra as research techniques become increasing subtle and sensitive.
Om is a perfect example which is described in the Samaveda as an udgita shabda ie an uplifting sound and this we can structurally where the production of the sound a is at the throat (kantha), u at the lips (oshtha) and m is a nasalised vibration so naturally step by step is drawing your energy upwards and enabling you to cross pass the realm of emotions. Regular practise of mantra brings not only stability but also resilience to the knocks and scrapes of life.
I am lucky to be surrounded by this energy through my Sanskrit studies, I am currently doing a PHD from Sampurnanand Sanskrit University, Varanasi and am part of a team that has established a Vedic gurukul for underprivileged children in Varanasi where these ancient traditions are taught as a way of life. I was born in the UK, educated at Oxford University and after completing my masters I worked in equities for top American Investment Banks until dedicating my life to Sanatana Dharma.
– Divya Prabha (Lucy Guest).
The sudden suicide of Sushant Singh Rajput has proven one thing that the success in the material world does not guarantee your happiness. In spite of the achievements made in the physical world, you may be dissociating from the real essence of your life. Your life energy can be so depleted that death seems to be an easier option than life.
No person instinctively chooses to commit suicide, he first struggles with those situations, fights with that state of mind, but when he finds his life force, his life energy so weak, he finds himself so weak that he does not see the ability to overcome those situations, then he chooses the terrible conclusion, like suicide. Basically there is a lack of love element in his life.
Different people choose different routes to get out of these situations, such as someone finding a solution by talking to their dear ones, someone by counselling of experts; while someone tries to get out of this mess through the medicines given by psychiatrists, some people choose the path of yoga.
I consider the path of yoga as a holistic path under the guidance of a qualified Guru. Those treading on this path are not only able to enhance their own life energy or Prana, but can also transmit a lot of positive energy to those who come into their contact. Mere presence of a siddha Yogi can remove the clutter from your mind.
The path of yoga helps you in finding your true nature. It helps you in realising your true potential. It makes you feel your vastness. It helps you to connect the infinite consciousness of which you are an eternal part or in other words it makes you realise that you are infinite. On this path your ego starts diminishing, your vision gets cleared, and gradually you start becoming aware of the real purpose of your life. Your attitude towards life and the world starts changing. A feeling of connectedness and love towards every single creature starts residing in your heart.
When everyone is your own then where is the loneliness? There is no need for any artificial talk therapy, nor does it have to contend with the side-effects of the anti-depressant. You start blossoming in your silence. Your life becomes simple and easy for you and the rest. Who does not love those who live simple and easy lives? If there is only love in life, will there ever be any need to commit suicide? Just give a thought.
– Ankur Pathak.
What really matters!?? A LIFE! Suicides are tragic and unfortunate all across the borders, yet it is highly preventable. According to WHO every 40 seconds, a person dies by suicide somewhere in the world. Evidently, the study says, the occurrence is between the age group of 15-29, yet it can transpire in any age groups all across the globe.
In the recent past almost a dozen people belonging to the film fraternity had died by suicide, proving that stigma is still at large. The mental health as I often mention is the most neglected form of health care in India. There are several mental health care facilities, psychologists, therapists working to prevent and support in these areas of mental health concern, yet what is drastically lacking is sensitiveness towards the patient/ person in the society, the second highest reason is stigma attached despite of understanding about the mental health area.
In the past several years of my working as a mental health professional, and coming into the contact with film and television fraternity from different regions across pan India, one thing in common, which is living an unrealistic life, unable to cope up because of living a life of aloofness, living away from family (family is a close knit coping system for us) , often motivating self with unrealistic goals. Relationships, fear of commitments, uncertainties and insecurities. These are largely seen; heard from the people that I am in touch within the fraternity.
Depression is a silent killer; it can eat you from inside without you realizing the consequences of it.
We, as a society lack empathy and become insensitive; let’s look at the Sushant Singh Rajput’s instance. Perhaps he was in a devastating situation after his mother passed away and wanted to share probably to someone. He couldn’t possibly have had a vent to release his sorrows and stories of his heartache, as everyone lives in their own shell. Suicides are not impromptu or decision made immediately, it takes months to years to spiral down to decide to end the life. One may understand that, what might the person have gone through over the period of time. What made him not to speak about it to anyone? Why no one noticed and reached out to him? Is it real that so many friends we make we don’t seem to have one single person to reach out to when in pain? These are some serious questions we should ask ourselves. Forget about what society thinks; society is YOU. We can decide how the society can change to new ways of thinking.
There are booklets, guidelines and preventive measures available on many portals including WHO, but what’s the point when ground realities and measures differ so much.? We need to think seriously on how to change the stigma by addressing such situations and issues bringing realistic way of living.
I believe, we need to begin inculcating a strong bond within the family from the young age itself. Schools and parents need to come forward without having a prejudice or any conditioned mindset to collectively reach out to the solution. This would bring a change in coping mechanism and strong bonding with the personal care and mental health concerns.
– Aparna Sharma, ananthammindstudio.com
It’s a hard space to say why people feel depressed. For some it can be genetic, for others there can be triggers and some may have no reason at all. It really needs expert diagnosis to figure the root case. People are wired differently and have different lived experiences. However we all know that we do not live in an easy world. It’s increasingly toxic. We have created a celebrity culture where on social media everyone has to have a perfect life. The perfect image. The comparisions. The success stories. It has put so much of pressure for us to have a life we see on highly edited and controlled images.
We almost end up hating ourselves for not meeting impossible standards. We work long hours or stick to the phone. We need constant stimulations. And one day we run into a mental health issues. We want everything to happen now and want everything today. But life was never meant to be that way. I receive so many inbox from people dealing with mental health issues. I run a circle called, “Let’s Huddle, India” where right now we meet online just to talk. And the other is, “Letter From A Stranger, India.” where people can write and receive a letter. Most stories we hear relates to mental health.
There are many ways to deal with mental health. The first thing is always to acknowledge that, there is an issue. And post that seek help. Honestly seeking professional help is the best way. Also, other things like talking to someone, slowing down, exercise and journaling, these things work. But they don’t take away the root cause. It is a part of your healing process.
But the best way is always see an expert. Let’s not make therapy a taboo. We have already lost enough, to lose more. A therapist will help you in coping with a new plan and heal yourself. Please make mental health a part of our conversations and life.
– Paromita Bardoloi.
So we must “speak out, reach out, ask for help” etc? I have tried that. And guess what? I have been told by people I deemed to be close to me that I “enjoy my depression”, that I am “weak, cowardly and escapist” to think of suicide, that “it is all in the mind”…you get the drift.
I am grieving over Sushant Singh Rajput. But I get him. Just as I get Robin Williams, Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, Nafisa Joseph and others. I have been in such dark places. I have been there. Not done that, thankfully, because I have been lucky to have a supportive family and a few kind friends. I have been in therapy for years. There have been people I had reached out to and they had talked me out of suicide. To all of them, I am ever grateful.
Each time I have survived, I have noticed that things get better. That life has its beautiful aspects. That we must never give up. And that we must have better mental health awareness and facilities in our country. So that nobody rejects you for marriage because you are in therapy. So that nobody makes insensitive comments when you confide your depressive/suicidal tendencies to them. So that help is always at hand.
– Jagari Mukherjee.
Just for understanding and just for statistics sake, we must ponder upon this. How many people have died of suicide, who were morally upright to a certain extent, spiritually alive and deeply committed to the wellness around them. How many went through severe bouts of depression who felt they were human beings and therefore a part of this cosmos, so they were part of the solution, not the problem.
Depression and anxiety is the byproduct of this so-called modern world. The stigma of being an abject failure is the albatross that hangs around the necks of many. The simple ways of life were abandoned. Friends were our tonics. With the cut throat competitive lives that we live, friends departed and only acquaintances filled our lives. Customary exchange of pleasantries, small talks about social matters, business dealings and catching up socially are the activities that define us.
Some become engrossed in self appeasement. Grandiose dreams, selfishness and narcissistic streak often takes an individual away from the real world. Rejection of any kind is therefore magnified because lack of a real support system makes it difficult to swallow pride. The fear of the unreal is more dangerous than the real. Communication, which is the best tool of survival, is often abandoned at the altar of ego. It is not about being an extrovert or an introvert because, as human beings we do connect with other individuals and that number is never very large.
People who have faith are often tested but never break up to bits. They draw solace and strength from their faith, whatever it maybe. Spiritual growth always makes an individual stronger from within. The question, ‘Why me’, is then discarded and the individual rises above from the position of self-pity and engages in the well being of others. A greater purpose than enables the individual to rise above personal pain.
We have seen, drug addicts, who after fighting addiction becoming great champions against drugs. Most of the de-addiction camps are run by them.
This materialistic world has given us certain ideas of living, loving and enjoying our lives. Firstly, we need to get out of this trap.
Living is something that has nothing to do with consumerism. We can live a simple life, an uncomplicated life and a joyous life, even in poverty. Love life should not be about falling in love with a particular person. Love is more than that. Love is also about giving and letting go. Life is not about pleasure, eating out, wearing flashy clothes, fancy cars and wining-dining in the best of restaurants. Let us check, whether the people who are living such a Cinderella like life are happy and content, we all know the answer, no. The constant brooding, allowing negativity to hunt all the positive energy from us, is a big threat.
Professional help for such individuals is necessary. Professionals are trained to handle such vulnerable individuals. Moreover, the individual feels free because the fear of being judged or rejected is minimized. An atmosphere of trust is built and the assurance from the professional boosts the confidence of the individual, who is otherwise having serious issues of trust deficit with everybody around.
When the darkness is so profound that the individual not only loses focus but feels helpless among the melee of people around. This self-imposed prison is a self-trap. Such an individual has low self-esteem at this juncture and therefore shuts the gates of communication with others. It is therefore our moral duty to keep a check on our near and dear ones. Relationships need to be watered and preserved. As individuals, let us understand that it is not at all shameful to seek help, including professional help. “A helping hand, someone who understands… “
– Rajesh Kumar Joshi.
Suicides have become a serious social issue nowadays; reasons may be diverse. The most recent shocking case of suicide is that of the highly successful young actor of Bollywood, Sushant SIngh Rajput. It is said that he had been battling with depression for over 6 months. Rich, huge fan base, popular, very talented. One might wonder why on earth he did that! My answer is – he couldn’t find a LISTENER.
This gives one clear message – successful professional career doesn’t actually guarantee a successful and positive personal life. He had millions of followers across social media also but if …IF ANY ONE had the heart to LISTEN to him, then tragedies like this could have been easily avoided.
Recently, more than four children ended their life and the reason for it was their parents couldn’t provide them with enough infrastructures for them to attend the online classes! Can this be a reason for a suicide? Lack of balance and understanding with the parents are the main reasons here.
We need more LISTENERS in the society. I still remember during my childhood how my parents used to chat with me everyday asking about day to day happenings at school, playground etc. How many parents find time to do so now? One small positive chat with a broken person can give him hope, a will power to fight and face the challenges in life!
Our education system should be clubbed with values, humanity, ethics, etc. A strong will power helps one face the challenges in life; this should be inculcated in the child at home and in school. More than the passing in board exams and class tests, children should be taught to pass in the most crucial exam – THEIR LIFE!
Even a smiling person might have a dark shadow inside. Treat everyone positively; we might have no idea what storm they are going through in their life. Positive words can save one’s life.
– Anand JS.
Even if you have someone in family and friends to talk to, sometimes the consequences are unfruitful. Either they are not equipped to provide a solution or they become judgemental! So the best thing is to take professional help! I have always been a champion of professional healers! From my personal experience!
– Nilakshi Handique.
The news of the death of Sushant Singh Rajput is shocking. It is very important to understand the entire gamut, the environment surrounding a person who is forced into depression that finally leads to suicide. Circumstances and tough times exposes one to the truth of having a PURPOSE in this journey of life. For example, I find good inflow of energy and positivism from my work for the nation from the time I have made nationalism my PURPOSE OF LIFE; and it is quite satisfying and fulfilling, keeping me engaged leaving no time or scope for any depressive thoughts to come into my life.
The spirit of nationalism gives a purposeful drive to our life, making us always think of what and how we can contribute to the growth, development and betterment of the nation in our own small way. I derive my drive by communicating through writing which gives me the freedom to express my inner thoughts and feeling to an open receptive world and trust me it is very engaging and satisfying as I do without expecting anything in return, since it is for a greater cause and for this dear motherland of ours.
Similarly, engaging in social work, even in small charity works, or connecting oneself with any social purpose also makes one realize how their one small helping hand can bring smile and joy and change the lives of many. Engaging in community services is another purpose one can choose. Many people also have been able to overcome their negative thoughts of sadness and depression through religious prayers and deeds, such as volunteering for services in temples, during festivals, interaction with people, distributing foods and materials, mantra chanting, etc. Such activities bring happiness and peace of mind and keeps us away from the world of consumerism and the rat race.
– Mita Nath Bora.
While family and friends should be helpful, in reality it may not be so. Many times people open up to strangers, somebody not known to anyone he/she is connected with. May be you have witnessed people talking about many things during train journey to fellow passengers. There is a different kind of secured feeling.
When someone opens up to us or when anybody shares something, we need to listen first. But human mind is inclined to react first n respond later. It needs practice and constant check on self to overcome our reaction n respond or just listen. While we try, we may and will fail. We may be sorry later on but our reaction received by the person already starts another chain reaction which may be irreversible and dangerous depending on the state of that person’s mind. Compassion, empathy and not being judgemental needs to be practiced and practiced, yet we will fail often. Therefore, professional help is needed. A professional counseller is trained and it is his/her job which he/she has to take seriously. They cannot afford to be anything but the ear which listens non-reactively and responds accordingly based on expertise.
And we need to destigmatize professional help. It is just like talking to a stranger who can help. This needs to be seen as positive thing. Just like we go for other illness to doctors. Talk it out.
– Swarnalee Dutta.
Featured image courtesy: Left image by John Hain and Okan Caliskan from Pixabay; images on the right from Google.