Deepika Padukone opened up about having depression during the shooting of Happy New Year. Media reports that I read mentioned how she had initially struggled with her ‘strange’ feelings, difficulty in getting up, feeling tired and frequently breaking down.
“I woke up feeling different. I felt a strange emptiness in my stomach.”
“The nagging feeling didn’t go away.
My breath was shallow, I suffered from lack of concentration and I broke down often.”
“There were days when I would feel okay, but at times, within a day, there was a roller-coaster of feelings.”
I greatly appreciate Deepika’s acceptance in public that she had Depression. I further commend her for describing how she had initially been reluctant to accept that it was Depression. She took opinions from two psychologists before accepting that “counseling wasn’t helping!” She took medication and is now doing very well.
Deepika is a very successful model and film star and a very influential role model for millions of people across the world. Her experience of Depression and her openness about it will help many young persons to discuss Depression not as a shameful stigmatising disorder but as something which happens to the best people as well. Further, it is treatable and help is available.
Film stars and people with a social/public profile are very, very reluctant to open up about their health, depression being swept under the carpet all the time. Facades are maintained until breaking point. Reports of stars ‘fainting’ on the sets are almost always due to lack of sleep brought about by Depression. PR managers usually label such incidents as tiredness due to too much work!
It is important to understand that Depression is a disorder of the chemicals in our brain that can happen to anybody at any time! It is not due to who we are or what we have done. The chemicals need treatment and medicines are almost always helpful. The more friends and family you have with whom you openly discuss emotional issues, the easier it is to identify Depression and to then accept help.
Since the days of Guru Dutt and Meena Kumari, our understanding of this disruptive illness has grown. That has also meant more effective treatments are available. It is therefore much easier for people to talk about Depression these days, after they get well and thus be listened to, rather than the older days when people would keep going downhill and not get well at all. However, even today there are a lot of people who feel that Depression is an intrinsic weakness and does not need medicines.
Deepika has helped in weakening that myth and hopefully leading more and more people to seek help early. I feel like hugging her and saying thank you, you have helped in putting Depression in the people’s face at least for a while.
I am afraid Depression was dealt with by drinking alcohol and using sleeping pills by “yesterday’s stars” and to a large extent that continues even today. The added “support” is drugs these days which push them on a course of further mood instability and a vicious cycle of self destruction. Many aspiring actors and models refuse to accept that they have depression. Hopefully, Deepika’s transparency will help prod them to go see a Psychiatrist today!
It always helps to talk about one’s emotions and feelings with friends and family. If one doesn’t have such support then talking to a mental health professional like a Psychiatrist would help identify and manage this distress early and effectively. Society’s positive views about Depression and meeting a Psychiatrist would have a great influence on the help seeking behavior as well. If Depression is left untreated it will worsen, destroy your career, relationships and lead to death by suicide.
It is always good and helpful to ask a person feeling low, “Are you feeling like death would be better than this pain and distress?” If the answer is “yes”, immediately seek help.
Footnote: Dr Maneesh Gupta is a Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist based in Dwarka, Delhi. He has three degrees in Psychiatry and has 16 years of Experience including six in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, UK