The Struggle of Dealing with Depression in India
22 Aug 2023
Living with depression in any country is difficult, but there are specific challenges that people living with depression in India face. In this blog from Samarpan Health, we take a look at what these challenges are, and how you can overcome them.
What is Depression?
Before we go into the unique challenges that people with depression in India face, let's first look at exactly what depression is, what it is not, and what depression is caused by.
While everyone experiences low mood from time to time, this is not what we’re referring to here. We are instead talking about depression disorder, which is a problem that affects around 1 in 20 people around the world. The most common forms of depression that we see at Samarpan Health are the two following types.
Major or Clinical Depression
This is the kind of depression most people have in mind when they are talking about depression. Symptoms include:
- Depressed mood
- Lack of interest in activities
- Disrupted sleep patterns
- Feelings of guilt
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Changes in weight
- Suicidal thoughts
Clinical depression lasts at least two weeks at a time and can last significantly longer.
Persistent Depressive Disorder
This kind of depression can last years. While it may not be quite as severe as clinical depression, people with persistent depressive disorder often suffer enormously. While people with PDD may still be able to function, they are likely to have little to no enjoyment of life.
Bipolar disorder has two distinct stages - manic and depressive. During manic stages, bipolar sufferers can feel incredibly elated. This stage can be fairly mild, or it can be so severe that the sufferer experiences hallucinations and hospitalization may be required.
The depressive stage of bipolar follows a similar pattern of depression seen in the two depression subtypes mentioned above. People with bipolar have a risk of suicide that is around 15 times greater than the general population.
Societal Beliefs about Depression in India
While in many countries around the world, understanding of depression has advanced in the past few decades, there are some sections of society in India that still hold on to antiquated views about depression.
Some Indians still believe that depression is a moral failing, or that depression can be snapped out of, or that people with depression are lazy. This isn’t the case. Depression is an illness in the same way that cancer or liver diseases are illnesses. While very few people are likely to tell people with these ailments that they are lazy, this unfortunately still happens in India.
There is also the idea that depression is something that is shameful. This is not unique to depression in India. People with all mental illnesses are sometimes stigmatized.
Misunderstandings around depression like these contribute to the significant suffering that people with depression already face, and can lead to many with depression in India not getting proper treatment.
Spiritual Beliefs about Depression in India
Some people in India still believe that the person with depression has done something to deserve their depression and that they are being punished in some way. This leads to the idea that the solution to depression lies in spirituality.
While spirituality may hold some of the answers for people who have depression, simply focusing on spiritual solutions is unlikely to solve severe depression. When someone has this kind of mental illness, it is crucial to look holistically at the causes.
This holistic approach may absolutely incorporate spiritual ideas, but there are other considerations. If someone with depression has encountered trauma in their lives, this may be a contributing factor to their depression. Trauma cannot be dealt with using spiritual methods and must be addressed with the assistance of a trained mental health specialist.
Problems Getting Treatment for Depression in India
Spiritual and societal beliefs are not the only barriers to treatment for depression sufferers. There is also a lack of good-quality facilities in many parts of India.
Unfortunately for those with depression, the most common type of mental health service that exists in India is the “mental health hospital”. These institutions use outdated methodologies, poorly trained staff, and often have little concern for patients.
These places are sometimes based on “lunatic asylums” - a British and European concept that had at its heart the idea that the purpose of the facility was to keep mentally ill people away from the community. There was a belief that people who had mental health problems were dangerous and could not be cured.
This is not the entire picture of mental health treatment in India today. Some mental health hospitals do now attempt to address the underlying causes of mental health problems using modern methods. These hospitals often do the best they can with limited budgets and may help to heal some people who walk through their doors.
Modern Depression Treatment Facilities in India
In recent years, there has been some change toward a better understanding of mental health in India. The younger generation is more aware of the realities of mental health, stigma is slowly reducing, and in the past decade or so there have been facilities built that are able to effectively tackle depression and other mental illnesses.
These new centres offer depression sufferers a very different experience from Indian mental hospitals. Facilities are often luxurious, the staff are of a much higher standard, and modern treatment methodologies are used. People staying at these centres have assured a quality of service similar to centres found in the United States and Europe while coming at a fraction of the cost.
Samarpan Health for Depression in India
By far the best option for depression treatment in India today is the type of mental health facility exemplified by Samarpan Health. Our modern center uses evidence-based treatment methods to get to the root of mental health problems. Samarpan facilities are top-notch, and you can be assured of comfort and privacy any time you visit us.
If you would like more information on the Samarpan way of treating depression in India or are interested in receiving treatment with us, please do not hesitate to call.