Up to 15% people suffering from depression have suicidal tendency, a psychiatric emergency: Mental health experts

New Delhi: The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), one of the apex trade associations of the country successfully organized another edition of the webinar series on ‘Illness to Wellness’ campaign, themed around “Depression Management and Treatment”.

The ASSOCHAM webinar was organized with an objective to cascade mass awareness and disseminate knowledge & wisdom to combat depression and promote healthier and happier life during current scenario.

The online event was graced by a team of eminent mental health experts who shared their valuable inputs on Depression management, which included – Prof. P K Dalal, President-Indian Psychiatric Society and Former Professor & Head Department of Psychiatry KGMU, Lucknow; Dr Ishita Mukerji, Program Director and Senior Psychologist, Kaleidoscope; Dr Akshay Kumar, Associate Consultant, Mental Health and Behavioural Science, Artemis Hospital, and Dr Rajesh Kesari, Founder and Director, Total Care Control who served as a moderator for the panel. The campaign running under a CSR initiative supported by SAVLON, aims at promoting healthy living with a keen focus on wellness and preventive health through healthy habits, diet, exercise, and holistic health.

Sharing his perspective, Prof Dalal said, “Depression is one of the most common mental disorders. It occurs across all the age groups and is twice as common in females as compared to males. It is treatable and the treatment should be started as early as possible. It can also occur quite commonly with the other chronic physical and mental disorders as well. If left untreated it can be severe in intensity and can lead to even suicidal tendency, a psychiatric emergency.”

He said around 10 to 15 per cent people suffering with depression can commit suicide and around 20 per cent more can attempt for suicide. The person should be immediately hospitalised and treated. There are now good medicines and other therapies available for the treatment of depression.

Prof Dalal added, “Medicines to treat depression are neither habit forming nor sedating in nature. The treatment can be easily tapered off after the person remains fully asymptomatic for a considerable period.”

The key to get to the core of the issue is by addressing and communicating in a safe space. “The continuing stigma associated with mental illness was the reason why we decided to come out and talk openly about it”, said Dr Mukerji.

“For someone living with depression, acknowledging their emotions and talking to a person they trust is often the first step towards treatment and recovery,” he said.

“A better understanding of depression and how it can be treated, while essential, is just the beginning. What needs to follow is sustained scale-up of mental health services accessible to everyone, even the most remote populations in the world,” said Dr Mukerji, Senior Psychologist-Kaleidoscope, as she concluded her address.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), depression is one of the leading causes of disability. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds. People with severe mental health conditions die prematurely as much as two decades early due to preventable physical conditions. These facts are a waking reality for all countries to re-think their approaches to mental health and to treat it with the urgency that it deserves.

The expert panel in coherence expressed that Depression is bio-psycho-social in nature, because of which a strong link between developing depressive symptoms & chronic illnesses can be established. Amidst the many important inputs during the webinar, it was also suggested that physicians who diagnose patients with chronic disorders must map the psychological impact with equal importance as co-morbidity can magnify due to interlinking of diseases.

Between adjusting to Work from home, children’s online school-college education, lack of contact with other family members, friends and colleagues and accepting the changes of lifestyle while mitigating the fear of contracting the virus, the mental health of people took a beating. Stress became a common and consistent emotion.

In severe cases, it even led to clinical depression. Reflecting on how stress and depression are often confused with each other, Dr Kumar, one of the experts among the pantheons from the field of mental health said, “Stress and anxiety are very different from Depression. Stress is not a disorder, but more of a reaction triggered by an external stimulus which may be uncomfortable. It is often used within the professional context to indicate an uncomfortable situation, wherein we must be careful not to interchange the meaning of sadness, stress, anxiety, and depression. Having said that, chronic disorder can lead to depression, if not monitored within time.”

The critical takeaways from the insightful session, included ways to handle a person with suicidal ideation with utmost vigilance on behalf of family members & social support, tips to parents and children on time management and active listening to prevent feelings of isolation and detachment, stages of post-partum depression, looking out for symptoms of depression in someone suffering from prolonged sadness and normalizing seeking professional help to resolve and steer ahead.

The session was moderated by Dr Rajesh Kesari, founder and director, Total Care Control who also shed some light on the gravitas of the topic and highlighted the need of acknowledging the existence of the problem of depression, which is still considered a taboo, as he successfully summarized the discussion with expert inputs of the esteemed panel.

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