If you have been reading the news this past week, you might have heard about the unfortunate demise of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade. For those of you who don’t know, Anthony Bourdain was a celebrated journalist, who dedicated his life to explore and write about culture, cuisine and his travel adventures all around the world. Bourdain won numerous awards for his work and hosted several TV-shows- some of them also bagged awards. Kate Spade, gifted fashion designer and businesswoman, most popular for her spectacular line of designer handbags was an inspiration to female entrepreneurs everywhere. One thing was clear, both Bourdain and Kate were excellent at what they did and were loved by those around them.
Kate Spade suffered from depression, and some of Bourdain’s colleagues claim that he did too. The news of their deaths, caused by suicide, shook everyone all over the world. One might argue- why would these two very obviously successful, loved and famous people take such a drastic step? What might have driven them to this? Isn’t success what breeds happiness and eventually contentment in one’s life? Well, the answer is no. Success and even love do not always mean that one is happy and mentally healthy.
What’s staggering is that many do not consider depression a mental health disorder. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 300 million people suffer from depression worldwide. If one is not careful depression might lead to suicide. Around 800,000 (source: WHO) people die because of suicide every year. Even in India, the statistics are staggering with the number of cases of depression being as high as 10 million per year.
So how does one know that one may suffer from depression? Symptoms often include major depressive disorder, where one often experiences long periods of depressed mood, feels lethargic, feels uninterested in things, has anxiety, irregular appetite, and feelings of low self-esteem. Depression sometimes itself is a symptom of Bipolar Disorder, where a person suffers from periods of manic and depressive episodes. Luckily, depression is curable, provided treatment is made available on time and the patient is treated by a professional. Treatment often includes psychological therapy and in severe cases, the patient is advised to take anti-depressants.
It is high time we stop taking our mental health so lightly. Mental health disorders are still taboo, not just in India but everywhere. With labels like “crazy” and “psycho”- patients more often than do not want to talk about their suffering. Starting a conversation about depression and suicide would be the first step of the many steps we will have to take to get rid of this epidemic.