While one seldom speaks about mental health issues, the problem just gets bigger with every passing day. When we choose to put our psychological troubles — depression, anxiety and phobias behind us, mask it and act ‘normal’ according to the standards set by society, we are killing ourselves slowly. We refuse to look for help because of the stigma attached to the condition.
‘Mental illness is viewed as taboo in India. With the government spending only 0.06% of the budget on mental health, and no private effort to focus, the issue remains on the back burner. Factors such as lack of awareness, myths, superstitions and inadequate treatments augment the problem. Many people fail to get required treatment for years and, as a result, their condition deteriorates. Most people hesitate to talk about psychological conditions such as depression and anxiety that are very common,’ says Dr Jyoti Kapoor Madan, Senior Consultant, Psychiatrist from Paras Hospital, Gurgaon that recently inaugurated a new Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Studies for betterment of people.
Here are few signs that tell you that you need attention.
1) Lack of concentration: It is one thing to feel stressed or worn out by the end of a hectic day which affects concentration. But say if drafting a letter or finishing a presentation is taking you way long than what it did before, you need to ask yourself ‘why?’ Because slowing down of activities is the first physical sign that your mind and body are losing co-ordination between them. Act soon.
2) Daydreaming: You are no longer dreaming about being the CEO of your company sitting at your desk; instead your thoughts turn more violent. You envisage yourself in a car accident, jumping from the rooftop or taking cyanide. Ask yourself why in the world are you doing that?
3) Criticising often: One important aspect of mental health deterioration is trying to find faults in others. You are either taking negative on people’s face or their backs. It is one thing if you are genuinely concerned about someone but a concern if you are doing it deliberately or having problems to hold back your emotions. This shows that your mind is not at peace with the feelings brewing within nor is it able to help you deal with them better.
4) Eating incessantly: Your hunger pangs can make you go wild, we all agree, or you may just be a foodie. But if you are eating a full 10” pizza and thinking that it is stress that is making you go crazy, take a deep breath and rethink your actions. Were you really that hungry to become a glutton or it was just a way of avoiding your inner demons? Change in eating patterns is one hint that your body sends out early for you to know that things are going amiss. Similarly, avoiding your favourite foods or unable to complete your meals is a red flag.
5) Substance abuse: Watch out for this because you might never know when you one cigarette a day can turn to 10 or one glass of wine to wind down is replaced by an entire bottle. The best way to justify your actions would be to blame it on stress. But that’s where you make a mistake. It is more than just usual stress.
6) Appearance issues: You no longer bother about unkempt hair or that faded pair of the shirt with ketchup stains and those drowsy eyes after a hangover. If looking your best doesn’t come to you easily, then your mind might have taken a turn for the worse.
7) De-organised: Does your once orderly cubicle, wardrobe and home look like a catastrophe hit it? If you have answered ‘yes,’ well you know where the problem lies.
8) Loneliness: Once you were a party animal, and now you think ‘enough is enough,’ that’s ok we all hit a phase when we mature and know what is good for us and gives us peace. But if you have started to cut off ties with the world, there is a deeper problem you are avoiding. If talking to people around is scary or depressing for you, reach out for a therapist.
9) Childishness: Most of the time you are unable to act your age; you behave like a 16-year-old in board meetings and go for free goodies with a zeal. However, when you realise your mistake, it is usually too late. No, this isn’t a sign that the child in you is still alive, but that the child in you is going wild.