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Dear Ministry of Health, you got the whole point about depression all WRONG!

No, depression is not just about the low mood that affects a person's thought, behaviour, feeling & sense of well-being.

Written by Debjani Arora |Updated : June 27, 2018 8:57 PM IST

We are living under a tremendous pressure to be swachh and swastha. Of course, the collective mission of us countrymen today is to make our country swachh first, everything else will follow; needless to say this consciousness has been drilled into us by the great minds in power. No, we are not done with cleaning the filth yet and we have a long way to go before we reach there. Close to the heels of the Swachh Bharat campaign we were introduced to the Swastha Bharat campaign too. Yes, we need a fit body and mind to continue performing as a great nation. But the matters of the mind and body are symbiotic in nature. If one fails the other cannot flourish. So, mental health becomes of utmost importance. Here are eight signs of modern-day depression that you should know about.

In fact, according to WHO reports, over 5 crore Indians suffer from depression and has become a major contributor to global suicides. So experts in the field of mental health suggest we have a dialogue about depression, reach out to help the person in need and commit ourselves to lessen this global burden of depression. I guess we are doing our bit talking about it, trying to be empathetic, reading more to become aware and trying our best to de-stigmatise it. But we aren't the experts here else the world would have been a safe haven for people suffering from depression. We definitely look up to the higher authorities in charge of public health to guide us in doing the same. And who greater than the ministry of health can we look upon. Read this to know if it is just stress or depression.

But guess what we figured out that their understanding on depression and mental health is way lower than ours. No, we aren't pointing fingers without a proof. This tweet by the ministry of health under the tweeter handle @MoHFW_INDIA with hashtags #SwasthaBharat #MentalHealth #LetsTalk exposed us to their apathy towards mental health and sufferers of depression. The tweet reads:

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#Depression is a state of low mood that affects a person's thought, behaviour, feeling & sense of well-being. One must take up activities that keep him or her boosted in order to cope with depression #SwasthaBharat #MentalHealth #LetsTalk

Even more appalling is the picture post attached to it which says

To cope with depression

  • Follow a routine
  • Travel
  • Be creative
  • Take multivitamins
  • Think positive
  • Do yoga
  • Stay clean
  • Sleep for minimum 8 hours
  • Eat fruits
  • Go for walk

These tips are put out in a circular pattern in a clockwise direction.

Well, if this is what MOF you think is depression and these are your tips to deal with it you just got it all wrong. Here is why,

MOF your definition of depression is misleading

Depression is not just a mere state of low mood that affects a person's thought, behaviour, feeling and sense of well-being. It is more than that, it is about the chemical changes happening in the brain that affects one so gravely that it renders one almost immobile in the body and freezes the mind. Mood swings or a low phase is what comes with it. We repeat low mood isn't the essence of this condition but an outcome of it. You cannot just take into account one symptom and ignore the whole problem. Here is what happens in the brain when people suffer from depression.

MOF you just re-stigmatised depression again

For long we have been talking about depression and the need to de-stigmatise it. Of course, with the little awareness created around we were able to mobilise the concept of reaching out and asking for help. However, data suggest that more than 50 per cent of adult suicides have an underlying mental health condition like depression which means people still don't reach out for help to cope with the pangs of the illness. One reason is the stigma attached to it. If we hear it from MOF that just some trivial things like yoga, walk, clean eating and sleep can help one overcome depression you are just stigmatising and normalising the whole affair. Here are few signs to recognise a person who is contemplating suicide.

MOF you are trivialising the illness

To say that the tweet is insensitive is to be really polite with the ministry. You have trivialised the illness in more than one way. The reason our country has this huge burden of mental health problem is because sufferers (let's not use the word victim) are unable to identify their problem, needless to say, the same goes with the caregivers too. Saying that the illness that in itself is elusive in nature is just a matter of low mood is like telling a dying person to stand up and dance to get back to life. No MOF, don't normalise depression by associating it with low mood. Just don't.

Of course, the public was quick to point out this blunder made by MOF and yes the government body did receive a lot of flake. But what amazed us the most was the public, in general, knew more about depression than the eminent personalities who represent the ministry or we aren't sure if the tweet was sent out by an intern.

But MOF if you are generally concerned about the dwindling mental health of the countrymen and want people to take an illness like depression seriously, next time when you tweet urge people to go out and get help talk, discuss and destigmatise mental health. You probably don't understand people need encouragement to go out and seek help. Don't make them feel that their problem is as trivial as the low mood that you face after being left swiped on tinder. Hope that is not too much we ask for.

Image source: Twitter @MoHFW_INDIA/Shutterstock

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