mid day editorial: Depression should be taken seriously

Jun 30, 2018, 06:01 IST | midday correspondent

In Western countries, many of which are more aware and evolved when it comes to mental health, depressives are actually put on suicide watch, which means there is a professional keeping an eye on them

mid day editorial: Depression should be taken seriously

The Health Ministry recently shared a poster on Twitter with a message that read: "#Depression is a state of low mood that affects a person's thought, behaviour, feeling & sense of well-being. One must take up activities that keep him or her boosted in order to cope with depression." The accompanying poster advised people to go for walks, follow a routine, practice yoga, eat fruits, sleep for eight hours and even told people to 'think positive'. While the messages may be well-meaning and well intended, they are astonishingly naïve at best, and ludicrous at worst. The reactions are all the more pungent and many readers are shocked because this comes from the Health Ministry.

Depression is certainly not a low mood. It is a very serious mental disorder. It cannot be cured just by going for a walk. Those are temporary mood lifters and while nobody is disputing that exercise has a role in mental well-being, too, it is certainly not an antidote for depression, which will need intervention from a mental health professional and may need the victim to be on long periods of medication, which means they have to take anti-depressants as there is a danger of self-harm in that depressive state. The Health Ministry may not have intended to trivialise the condition, but this is exactly what has happened. Depression, which mental health professionals are crying out loud to be taken with more seriousness in India, has been reduced and trivialised to feeling low.

In Western countries, many of which are more aware and evolved when it comes to mental health, depressives are actually put on suicide watch, which means there is a professional keeping an eye on them. Treat depression with the gravitas it deserves and do not reinforce the wrong and flippant it is just a low phase stereotype. Health Ministry, you need to get this one absolutely spot on.

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