In the process, one of India’s most popular actors have become a public health model.
Actor Deepika Padukone broke the silence and stigma around depression, sharing for the first time with the public, her battle against the ailment.
Her aim – “if I can impact one life in this entire process of speaking up and letting people know that it’s something I have been through and something that I could deal with because I had a fantastic support system.”
India is the most depressed country in the world according to the World Health Organisation. At 36% this is highest rate of depression anywhere on the globe, says NDTV , the most credible among India’s myriad television channels. According to the channel, India also has the highest suicide rate of any country in the world.
Over 1,00,000 people on an average kill themselves in India every year and these are the only reported figures of depression and suicide.
India has a population, which is 70% under the age of 35. The country has the highest suicides rates in the world in the 15-29 age group , in one study 10 times more than America.
A Star War Against Depression
Yet stigma and denial rule mental health in India.
Hats off to Deepika, she broke the shroud of silence with her own story and her own struggle.
No, no I am not telling you her story. You can read it or even listen to her. Here is the link.
Many public health questions emerges out of this media interview. I would like to tag ten of them here.
Should Depression be Called Depression
(1) First of all should depression be called depression. Deepika’s doctor thinks otherwise.
(2) Should we not position depression as a mind ailment that needs to see a doctor, that requires medication ? Should we not say loud enough and often enough that anyone can get it?
(3) Is depression sadness or is it something else?
(4) What does depression do to one’s brain? heart? gut? hormones?
Live, Love and Laugh
(5) Deepika is setting up a foundation now. The Foundation is called the ‘Live, love, laugh’ foundation. And other than creating awareness and trying to remove the stigma that is attached to mental illness is also going to be prevention and cure. What should be the priorities of this foundation.
(6) An important message is that it is the strong who seek help. You need strength to be able to talk about your feelings, to own up to it and to know yourself. Deepika’s doctor insists that people who seek help are extremely strong and they are the brave . How can we put this across?
Men and Women in Depression
(7) Is there a gender difference in depression. Are women, especially wives most likely to suffer from depression? Has this anything to do with hormonal factors?
(8) Working women have to juggle into multiple roles. Is there a lot more pressure on them? Do women tend to be more emphatic? How much of it is cultural and how much of it is biological?
(9) Are depressed men less likely to seek help? Do they refuse to cry, get angry and alienate people around them? Do they look more lonely, more isolated and alcoholic, perhaps? Do depressed men end up committing suicide?
Transformative Function of Treating Depression
(10) Does treating depression have a transformative function. Is taking care of depression a voice of self awareness and self discovery. Does it help to optimize one’s life style and mind? as Deepika’s daughter claims?