Depress Mat Ho Yaar!

Last week, one of my friends Pradeep Ananth wrote an article on depression. It was a first hand account on how he coped with depression last year, and how his family and friends helped him get through the lean phase. Incidentally, few days later Deepika Padukone too spoke about her experience with depression.

Depression is not a new thing. I have heard my friends getting depressed about their career and love life.   But I never took depression seriously. I would simply give some gyaan about depression and tell them to move ahead. It was only after I read Pradeep and Deepika's experience that I realized the seriousness of depression.

Pradeep's article gave me a new perspective on how we can help people who are depressed or what we should do if we are depressed. In this post, I am going to enlist the lessons that I learned from their experiences and the lessons that you must learn too.

Lesson # 1: Never say stuff like 'but you have a great career why are you upset' or 'you have such a lovely spouse, why get depressed?'. This is one of the most common mistakes that I made in the past. We may think that those words will make a person feel better, but it is unlikely to help. Just avoid saying those words.

Lesson # 2: Also avoid words like "look at xyz, they have a worse life than you". I cant remember the number of times, I must have said that to my friends. I used to give this gyaan about count your blessings just so they realize that things are not as bad as they think. But again I realized, it doesn't work.

Lesson # 3: Take up a hobby. Again this was the most random advice I have given my friends when they went through a breakup. Avoid saying that.A depressed doesn't want any unsolicited gyaan from you. All they want is an ear that would listen to them or an empty space where they are left undisturbed.

Lesson # 4: "shaadi karle sab theek ho jayega". This is one of the stupidest advice I have heard someone give my depressed friend. A friend who overheard this remarked, "woh shaadi karega toh suicide kar lega". Indians think marriage is the only solution to every problem. Please stop giving such random advices. A marriage may work some people. But some it could ruin two lives.

Lesson # 5: So what should you do when your friend feels low? Just listen to them. Don't give gyaan, don't interrupt, just allow them to pour out their heart to you. They will definitely feel better. In some cases they may want to be left alone, so just give them space and check on them once a day just to know that they are doing fine.

Lesson # 6: If it's you who is feeling low or if it's your friend who is going through depression, do visit a counselor for advice. We Indians think a psychiatrist or a counselor is for 'mentally challenged' or 'weak' people. But that's not the case. Depression is like common cold, there is nothing to be ashamed of it. In fact, timely help can help a person feel better.

Lesson # 7:  Be supportive. Pradeep and deepika had a strong support system, which is why they have been able to lead a normal life. There are people who get into addictions or take extreme steps like committing suicide due to lack of support. So be supportive. If it's you who is in depression, seek support from your loved ones. Don't be ashamed.

Depression unlike physical ailments are not easily visible to anyone. Please take professional help in case you or your loved ones feel depressed. And the next time you see someone depressed, put aside your cell phone and lend them your ears. Trust me they will feel better. And if it still doesn't work, please follow pradeep anath on twitter and ask him all that you want to know about depression. Deepika might not answer your questions, but he surely will.