ON A ROLLERCOASTER?
By Alisha Sharma
“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional” said the famous Japanese author Haruki Murakami. Life is a rollercoaster. It is so much about accepting good with the bad and just rolling with the punches. While a difficult situation may empower resilience in some, others may sink into depths of sadness or in other words - depression.
Clinical depression or major depression is a psychological disorder, affecting more than 350 million people worldwide, making it the leading cause of disability globally. It is characterised by a prolonged low mood and the feeling of worthlessness which is accompanied by a constant feeling of hopelessness and misery. It pushes a person into a downward spiral. Depression impairs a person's interest in day-to-day tasks and the activities they once enjoyed. It often results in insomnia or oversleeping and restlessness.
Having a “mental illness” is often associated with being ‘crazy’ and people suffering from it are often considered outcast by the ignorant members of the society. It becomes pertinent to be informed and aware of this common psychological disorder.
Depression can be triggered by a number of causes. Though it is not known what exactly causes this mental illness, it is usually followed by a traumatic life event. Death of a loved one may further push a person into isolation and trigger depression. It is also found that people who rely heavily on alcohol and drugs to cope with problems are most likely to fall prey to this disease. In today's economy where recession is at its peak, major population are struggling to keep their livelihoods afloat. Having financial woes causes elevated feelings of anxiety and inablity to deal with the stress ultimately leads to depression.
Depending upon their severity, signs and symptoms depression can be classified into different types. Apart from clinical depression the different types of depression are:
• Dysthymia or Chronic Depression involves a chronic (two years or more) depressed mood. It has the same symptoms as clinical depression, although it is less severe.
• Bipolar depression is characterised by having episodes alternating between mania and depression. Mania is a state of feeling abnormally elevated which is accompanied by an irritable mood. Almost half of all people suffering from this disorder experience hallucinations or delusions. Feeling suicidal and losing the will to live is also common. Individuals also seem to manifest impulsive and eccentric behavior.
• Atypical depression is likely to begin earlier in life, usually during teenage. It has distinct symptoms which include significant weight gain, hypersomnia or oversleeping, feeling weighty on arms and legs and becoming extremely sensitive to rejection. These symptoms may lead to difficulty in maintaining personal relationships. “Mood Reactivity” is an important criterion while diagnosing atypical depression. It means that a patient's capacity to feeling happy is up to 50% in response to positive events in life.
• Seasonal depression refers to a depression that tends to occur in the same period of time every year. It is most likely to begin in the autumn and continue throughout the winter. Though less frequent in occurance, it may also start in summer. Its symptoms include having feelings of anxiety along with hopelessness, oversleeping and withdrawal from family and friends. It also heightens cravings for foods laden with carbohydrates that could eventually lead to weight gain. Seasonal depression that occurs in summers may have just the opposite symptoms.
• Postpartum depression or postnatal depression is a severe form of depression experienced by a woman following childbirth. It is fairly normal to feel vulnerable after having a child, postpartum depression, however, causes serious psychological trauma. It is characterised by feelings of sadness, exhaustion and anxiety. It often results in agitation and irritable behavior. Frequent crying episodes are also prevalent.
• Psychotic depression is an extremely serious condition accompanied by hallucinations and delusions. A dismal outlook towards life leaves the patient suffering from a psychotic break from reality, which often results in social isolation. People with psychotic depression may hear peculiar “voices” and may come up with illicit and bizzare ideas. Some people also develop false beliefs. It may cause a person to become self destructive or cause harm to others.
Suffering from a psychological illness makes an individual vulnerable and emotionally strained and, it thus becomes imperative to treat this cripling disorder. To get acquainted with the different available treatments and I decided to pay a visit to a speciality treating the mentally disturbed. Vidyasagar Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences or VIMHANS is one such famous multi-speciality medical hospital located in the vicinity of Nehru Nagar area of south Delhi. Being a reputable and well established institution, it boasts of departments such as mental health, neurology, neurosurgery, orthopaedics and even a multiple sclerosis treatment centre. Its mental health department consists of sub-departments like psychiatry, psychology, mental health rehabilitation and a mind, body and wellness centre.
To help cope with depression medications consisting of anti-depressants and tranquilisers are often prescribed, depending upon the severity of the illness. That said medications are not sufficient to cure depression by itself. To get the clarity for diagnosis and for assessment of personality and stress related problems counselling and therapy sessions are recommended with psychologists. The mind, body and wellness centre emphasizes on treating depression with non-pharmacological approaches like clinical hypnotherapy, ayurvedic consultations including massage and panchkarma therapy, energy medicine, dowser healing and yoga and meditation. The facility also offers rehabilitation services for people with alcohol and drug abuse problems aimed at providing a full functioning life to its patients.
fnbworld found out that depending on the type of consultation, the fee could range between Rs. 700 to Rs. 1,100 that includes a registration fee of Rs. 100 for the first visit. For psychiatric patients, the hospital is well equipped with accommodation options like deluxe single rooms, single rooms and economy ward beds (8-10 beds) which are priced at Rs. 5,500, Rs. 4,600 and Rs. 2,700. The rooms are well furnished with all the necessary amenities. It is important to not get overwhelmed during the treatment as it takes time and commitment. Positive changes in lifestyle and an optimistic view towards life surely works for most suffering from this manageable ailment.