Are we also facing a depression crisis?

The death of Sushant Singh Rajput came as a nightmare that none of us wanted to see. A promising actor of 34, committing suicide when he was riding the wave of success, shook all our hearts. Initial investigation has assumed that this was an act driven by depression. Which was probably exacerbated because of the lockdown. Not only did COVID-19 bring with it a deadly virus. It has also resulted in the rising rate of depression and other mental health issues. It is extremely difficult to imagine the kind of toll that this lockdown has taken over people suffering from depression. For it to have the power to drive someone to suicide gives a sense of how serious the problem has become.

So, while we mourn the loss of Sushant Singh Rajput, let’s also commit ourselves to ensure that we take care of ourselves and those around us. We don’t just have to protect ourselves from the Coronavirus. But also, from these other health issues that have emerged as a result of this crisis. We need to be there for our friends and family. Because one act of kindness at the right time can actually save lives. So, how can we be of help to those around us? Let’s take a look at some of the things you need to know!

mental health in lockdown

Mental health and COVID-19 lockdown: A new crisis await

In a survey conducted by the Indian Psychiatry Society, it was found that there has been a 20% rise in the number of reported cases on mental illness. A World Economic Forum article, “As India’s lockdown ends, a mental health crisis is just beginning”, predicts that by the time this lockdown ends India will see a mental health crisis. Almost everyone you know can be at risk of developing mental health issues. It is important to remember that none of us has ever been in a situation like this before. No one thought that something like this will happen in this day and age. And despite everyone’s best efforts, the Coronavirus does not seem to be going anywhere. All of this has created a lot of stress on everyone.

One of my uncles, whom we all knew as the strongest most resilient person, has developed depression. More than 20 years ago, his son died at the age of 16. Not only did he stay strong, but he also helped his family emerge from the shock of that tragedy. And now, that same man is suffering from depression because of this lockdown. Some people are suffering from domestic violence because of this crisis. People who are now unemployed and added to that stress is the looming terror of catching the coronavirus. Children who haven’t left their homes for months and don’t even realise how their mental health is getting affected. All of us need to know that depression does not always manifest itself as perpetual sadness. The person who laughs the loudest at your jokes might be suffering from this issue.

Signs of depression during the lockdown

How to know if someone is in depression? It isn’t easy to recognise that someone is suffering from depression. This has been made worse now that everyone is going through some form of sadness due to the lockdown. The best course of action now is to help everyone who is having difficulty coping with the lockdown stress. But these signs of depression might help you identify people who are at a higher risk:

  1. A negative outlook towards life and the future: people who suffer from depression often are unable to be hopeful about the situation improving in the future. They tend to have negative thoughts about the future. Their demeanour tends to be pessimistic and hopeless.
  2. Don’t take any interest in their hobbies: Another sign of clinical depression is the inability of anything to make them happy. The things that used to bring joy to them would no longer do so. In fact, they won’t even try to partake in those activities.
  3. Fatigue and insomnia: A loss of sleep and extreme fatigue are two other major signs. This is one sign which can be easily identified during the lockdown. Most of us are no longer engaged in our hectic schedules like those before the lockdown. If despite that, someone you know seems fatigued and is having difficulty sleeping, it can be an issue.
  4. Overeating or loss of appetite: Depression is often accompanied by a change in appetite. This can go either way. The persons suffering from depression may either start eating too much or not eat at all.
  5. Detachment and irritability: It is difficult to understand what a person suffering from depression is going through. what’s worse is that they don’t understand it either. This causes a lot of detachment from people around them and they become easily irritable too.
  6. Suicidal thoughts or attempts: It has now been told that Sushant Singh Rajput was suffering from depression for the past 6 months. It is believed that that is what drove him to suicide. Has someone in your family expressed a desire for life to end? Don’t take this lightly.

How can you help someone who is displaying these signs?

If all these signs, or even one of them, remind you of someone you know, take action! This is not the time to wait for the person to ask you for help. Offer help before it is too late. Here are some ways in which you can help people suffering from depression:

  1. Be there for them: The worst thing that you can do to someone who is suffering from depression is ignore them. Don’t leave them alone. if you are in different cities or can’t be there physically because of the lockdown, check in on them regularly. Talk to them every couple of hours. Listen to them, be around them.
  2. Destigmatize mental health issues: The biggest problem in India is not the rate at which depression is increasing. It’s the stigma around mental health issues. We are a society that associates mental health issues with craziness. Most people don’t even recognise depression as a health issue. The patient of depression might be of the same school of thought. Help them come to terms with the fact that they need help.
  3. Get professional help for them: It is difficult to visit hospitals or clinics these days. In fact, it is discouraged to do so. However, several mental health experts are doing therapy sessions online these days. One might think that these sessions are not as effective as an offline, one-on-one session. But trust me when I say that it can be a great help.
  4. Listen more and talk less: Judging someone or applying reverse psychology on someone who is having suicidal thoughts never works. Ask them about how they are feeling. Positively motivate them to talk if they are unwilling to share. And when they do, listen to them. Don’ judge them or get angry at what they have to say. Make them feel heard and offer them your support. Make them realise how important they are and give them hope for a better future.
  5. Try engaging them in everyday activities: If they have lost their will to do anything, try to motivate them to get in a routine. Make sure that they eat healthily and practice healthy routine. Help them develop an interest in things. And through all of this remember to be patient.

It can be difficult to deal with someone who is suffering from depression. Especially now, when all of us are worried about our lives. But remember this, you can be the difference between life and death for them. And the life of your loved ones is worth everything in this world.

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Inspired by the Harry Potter movies, Anmol started writing short stories at the age of 7 (which were as good as they could be). Now 21, and pursuing a Bachelors in Business Administration, she has started writing blogs mostly on pop culture and issues that affect the masses. A feminist to the core, she hopes to work for the United Nations some day on their Women Empowerment projects.
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