If I have to work for a cause, or volunteer for some organisation, I would do it for people struggling with Depression. What most people are unaware is that depression is also a disease like any other that needs treatment and medical intervention. In India, very few people take medical support when they come to know that they have depression or associated mental ailments.They keep it to themselves and let it grow within them and finally leading to chronic mental illnesses or even suicide.
I come from a place where the word 'depression' doesn't really exist 'physically' in the society.Not that it is totally non existing, it is unaddressed and kept 'secret' from the society. Getting help for a mental ailment is considered a taboo and most of the time, it is left untreated and unattended. Most people are scared about the social stigma attached to seeking medical help for mental ailments. They fear they will be subjected to 'social death' if 'caught' visiting a psychiatrist.
I remember my grand mom advising me not to use the word 'mad'. Trust me, I was not allowed to say " you are mad" or "she is mad" or even "I am mad" when I was a child. I was told that 'mad' was a bad word, a bad state, where people get isolated and are thrown out of the society. I still remember calling my brother mad and getting punished for the same. Such is the taboo attached to mental illnesses and forget about consulting a doctor for the same.
In my clinical practice, I have seen many patients who come with the general signs of depression. Often I find it difficult to probe into the case and investigate further since the Patient is unwilling to accept the fact that he/she is having clinical depression. This poses a major threat not to many physicians when the patient tries to be defensive during relevant inquiries which in-turn defers a dull assessment of the case. Some patients do not even accept the treatment since they do not accept the diagnosis.
First step to help people battling mental diseases as a whole is to educate and create awareness among the public and professionals. Unaddressed depression is a hidden threat which can have varied levels of consequences. Awareness and education of the patients and their families must be enhanced. Physicians and related professionals need to develop their standards of performance with respect to behavioral health care. Government should promote more medical research and invention of new treatments for combating depression and associated mental disorders.
With our efforts, let us extend our support to those people battling depression or at least try to help them by showing support and compassion than isolating them,Lets hope, we can have give them a better place to live in and let all patients get quality medical care.
image courtesy :paidorama.com