• 17 Nov
    Oyindrila Basu

    What can a depressed person, feel within?

    depressed girl 

    A person in severe depression has a world of his own, which is dark, bizarre, negative and harmful.

    There is no light; no hope; no motivation at all in that place. The disastrous place is the truth for a depressed person, and there is no way to convince such a person that the earth is beautiful or life can be good.

    Last Sunday, I was at a birthday party; my very good friend and colleague had invited us and some of her batch mates from college for a get together, to celebrate her special day.

    We cut the cake, sang for her, and were having a gala time over some drinks, when I found a girl sitting quietly at one corner staring out of the window.

    After some enquiry, I came to know, she is the birthday girl’s childhood mate, and she was there with her family. Her name was Sarita, and to my surprise, there was not a spec of smile on her face; I wondered why she was so sad, on her friend’s birthday, and what was she staring at! I went towards her to understand what was going on in her mind.

    I tried talking to her; asked a couple of questions and answer was “……….”, that’s right, silence, she seemed not to listen. I touched her hand, and she startled with surprise; she felt irritated and said, “leave me alone, go away, else you will be doomed like me” ………….. “why do you think you are doomed”, I asked.

    Life has been tremendously unfair with me; you know when I was born, God had just ripped off my forehead with misfortunes; I am a fool, an idiot, a stupid; in fact, I am ominous, please go away from me, I cannot do good to myself, neither can I be of any good to others. I have no right to live, there is nothing to live for; you see the darkness outside, that is the only thing waiting for me”.

    I wasn’t shocked or anything hearing all this; I inferred that she was in depression, and I understood what she was going through.

    I have been in depression myself in my college days, and it just feels horrific, but I had turned on my will power to the maximum then, whatsoever the internal feelings were the same.

    A person going through depressive phase has minimum self-esteem or confidence; it seems whatever wrong is happening around, is because of him/her.

    Every depression has its own cause, especially if it is a failure in something, recovery is too tough. Family is generally confused with your behaviour, and they make your situation worse by interrogating you.

    Sometimes, they are even irritated with you, hence they try to make your problem appear trivial, commenting sarcastically or cracking a joke on it, and you feel like you are just alone in this big bad world.

    This girl was going through the same; she felt she was causing more pain to her family, by being around them; she was just an acquaintance, but I could relate to her somehow.

    What can a person do, if he/she is in depression and feels this way? For people undergoing mild depression, there are several remedies which can be resorted to immediately-

    1. Turn to a healthy lifestyle i.e. include more fresh nutrients to your diet like fruits, green vegetables, good carb like lentils, oats etc.


    2. Free yourself from caffeine and alcoholic and carbonated beverages, which can be worse to your depression.


    3. Exercise – This sounds weird, but sweating releases packed up negative energy from the brain; you tend to feel more motivated. Any form of exercise, like dance, yoga, running, aerobics can help. Even crying is a way to release lumps of emotions, and the body loses significant number of calories, as good as 1.3 calories/minute.


    4. Music in any form should be ritually practised, if you are depressed.


    5. Natural remedies like lavender oil, flax seed, sunflower seeds can help to some extent.


    However, major depressive phases are difficult to control; you can practise self-counselling or rationalizing, but that doesn’t come so easily for everyone, hence psychotherapy is required; doctors can counsel you or imply psychotropic medications as required, but there is no point living with your depression; life is precious and it should be made worth living.

    Share your thoughts with those who understand you and are concerned about you. Don’t consider friends and family as foes.


    What the family and friends of a depressed should do?

    Do not argue with the person who is in depression.

    If you try to convince them that it is sunny outside, they will naturally not agree, and get even more rigid with their idea.

    If you try to remind them of their happy phase, before depression, that is quite unreal to them now; for e.g. if a depressed person doesn’t feel any love for his/her spouse or children, you cannot make them feel the love by reminding them of their previous life before depression; in fact, that will trouble them further, the dilemma can actually affect them badly; they will be stubborn upon their dark reality, so do not try to convince them on the triviality of their problem; everybody believes that their problem is major and important, so try to be patient with your loved one, who is depressed; console them that you understand, be a good listener, so that they can share their thoughts with you. Do small actions which can create a spark of happiness for them; be by them, but do not question much, give them time.

    However, it is the duty of near ones to assess the thoughts of a depressed person too; they can be dangerous sometimes, hence if you envision something like that, motivate him/her to take professional help.

    Image source

  • 01 Oct
    Jennifer Scott

    Understanding Suicide Factors and Helping Bereaved Loved Ones

    suicide prevention

    There are so many factors that figure into someone committing suicide that it can be impossible for bereaved loved ones to understand what has happened and the reasons for it. If you are trying to help a friend and support them after losing a loved one to suicide, it is important for you to understand the external factors that lead to suicide.


    External factors that contribute to suicide


    There are several risk factors that contribute to suicidal thoughts and actions. People who commit suicide often have a history of substance abuse, incarceration, a family history of suicide, poor job security or low levels of job satisfaction, a history of abuse or witnessing continuous abuse, a diagnosis of a serious medical condition like cancer or HIV, a history of social isolation or being the victim of bullying, or being exposed to suicidal behavior. There also are certain groups of people who are at higher risk for suicide, including men, people over age 45, and Caucasians, American Indians, or Alaskan Natives.


    Because people cannot control these external factors, it is imperative that you stress the fact that your friend is in no way to blame for the loss of her loved one. Help her understand that she is not responsible for the death of her loved one so that she can work through her grief in a healthy way.


    Mental health factors into suicide


    Certain mental disorders, mental illnesses, and mental health issues may increase the risk of suicide in people. Specifically, depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and schizophrenia may increase the risk of suicidal behavior in people.


    Depression is a common mental health issue around the globe; Studies also show that mood disorders, including depression, are the most common psychiatric conditions that relate to suicide, though the risk of suicide greatly varies with the type of depression. Key indicators for suicide among those with depression include previous self-harm, the severity of illness, alcohol or drug abuse, serious or chronic physical illness, loneliness, anxiety, and personality disorders.


    Bipolar disorder is another common condition that increases suicide risk; in fact, suicide risk is 15 times higher for people with bipolar disorder than in the general population. Studies show that people with bipolar disorder attempt suicide less often when they commit to maintenance drug treatment and treatment for depression and avoid alcohol and drugs.


    People who suffer from schizophrenia attempt suicide 40% of the time, and the most common cause of death among those with schizophrenia is suicide. Risk factors for suicide among people with this mental illness increase when they also suffer from depression, lack treatment, or have a chronic illness.


    Again, you need to help your friend understand the relationship between mental health and suicide. While the facts and statistics may not be as meaningful to her in her grief, it is important for her to understand that the suicide was beyond her control.


    Substance abuse factors and suicide


    Substance abuse also plays a role in suicide and understanding the connection between the two may help your friend realize that she is not to blame for the suicide of her loved one. A mental health condition combined with addiction increases the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Veterans especially are at risk of substance abuse and suicide.


    Your bereaved friend may or may not have been aware of substance abuse issues with her loved one while he was alive, and this may be a sensitive issue. In order to help her, you need to be supportive and empathetic. Do not judge her or her deceased loved one and listen to her when she needs to talk.


    While you may not be able to understand exactly how your friend is feeling about losing a loved one to suicide, you can help her try to understand what happened and why. She needs to know that she is not to blame and is in no way responsible for the suicide. Offer to listen, talk, go for a walk, see a movie, or anything else that will help your friend process her grief and get through this incredibly difficult time. 

    Image source

  • 30 Sep
    Oyindrila Basu

    Tears are healthy.

    tobama crying


    Many of us think that if a person is crying, something must be wrong, at least greater than if he is just having a grave face or a serious look. If we find someone crying, we irrationally tend to run towards them and start questioning the reason, in fear that they may do something wrong.

    This signifies that crying in public is an odd behaviour, and if someone does it, it is either wrong or problematic with the person; but why?

    Crying is just a way to express your emotions directly; why has it been stigmatized as something equivalent to illegal? There are also gender segregations in case of who can perform this action.

    Men are not allowed to cry; the society calls it effeminate; biological expression of emotion is socially prohibited and hence our brain gets the instruction, that when we are in front of others, crying can be embarrassing, and hence we avoid it.

    Though history has contrary records; Medieval warriors and Japanese samurai cried during times of epic tragedy. Crying was symbolic of honesty and genuinity in the West, and hence many prospective leaders like Abraham Lincoln cried during their speech, though the action was a strategy and hence motivated, and later politicians follow the same.

    However, in general we all consider, crying, as being overpowered by emotions, and why men, today even women do not prefer to cry as they feel that shows they are weak.

    But scientifically, this is completely untrue. If you do not let your tears out when you are overwhelmed with emotions, the burden gets piled up, forms a lump in the throat and these repressed thoughts can later cause physiological issues like increased heart rate, blood pressure, headache and many more. Letting out suppressions is the best way to stay mentally and physical healthy, as we have already discussed in 5 Stages Of Grief.

    When you don’t try to conceal the natural processes of the brain, it functions much more normally.

    A sportsman who cries after a lost game, feels much more confident of himself, and is less affected by peer pressure.

    Tears have multiple roles to play. The three different kinds of tears, basal, reflex and emotional tears are individually responsible to lubricate and protect your eyes and also keep the vision clean.

    Tears provide oxygen and nutrients to your eyes, remove waste products, lubricate the eye, and flush out debris and bacteria. They also help you see better by smoothing irregularities that may exist on the eye’s surface. They are imperative for eye health and vision; in fact, eyes produce 10 ounces of tears everyday naturally and you have to let them flow out, if there are not enough tears getting produced, a doctor consultation is suggested these days.

    Hence crying not only keeps you mentally healthy, but also provides physical relief in different ways; hence next time you feel like crying, just burst out into tears, do not hold back, feel fresher and healthier after the release of your emotions.

    Read more: Grief: The Venture towards Resilience and adjustment

  • 25 Aug

    The big question - Medications or Counseling in Mental Health Management???

    counseling vs medication


    I have mulled over this topic for quite some time now, and  the question that comes to mind for a medical doctor who is trained in psychiatry is "Why do we even have to talk about this topic"?  However, I realize after being in the field of psychiatry for more than 6 years now, it is relevant to explain this in lay person's language because of the huge stigma that goes with the subject of mental health.


    It is important to note the difference or similarities of Medications or Counseling in Mental health or as such General Health care.


    Counseling is an art, whereas Medicine is as much of an art as it is about science. 

    Both are ways of approach towards a patient that involves speaking with, building rapport and empathizing with the patient's condition. 

    However, while counseling involves different approaches by way of talk therapy using the mind as the subject and the various processes of the mind such as behavior, intellect, memory, insight, understanding, etc, a psychiatrist would use medications in addition or in isolation depending on the time constraints that the patient load would impose.


    While, we know that medications are effective in the treatment of mental health conditions, there is evidence in the scientific world that talk therapy or counseling is as effective for some mental health conditions as medications, if not better. 

    Depression and anxiety are two such mental health conditions.  Medications while being helpful in the above conditions, counseling or psychotherapy is as effective and it has been proven that the combination of therapy and medication is more effective that either one of them alone. 

    Some do however argue that psychotherapy is pseudoscience. 


    Let us examine as to which ones are on the brink and which kinds of therapy are not useful at all.

    Psychoanalysis, sometimes dream analysis and narco analysis, childhood experience analysis are considered as having poor to no evidence in the literature, as being effective treatments for any mental health condition. 

    The evidence for placebo or a sugar pill being more effective or as effective as the above kinds of therapies exists in literature. 

    However, these kinds of studies are very difficult to do as each of these therapies are different in their own regard and maybe even come across as different to different individuals.

    One is allowed to form an own opinion based their own experience with regards to these therapies.


    Mental health is characterized by a sense of purpose or a sense of coherence in the widely chaotic world of medications or psychotherapies. 

    We need to structure either therapies to make sense of this chaos - give some method to the madness. 

    Flexibility and resiliency can be developed only with exposure.  Exposure to stress or difficult situations only teach the human mind as to how to overcome these stresses or difficult situations. 

    These are ingrained in our DNA and passed on to the next generation.  While we know that humans are because of our DNA we also know - now - that the life experiences also contribute to the DNA. 

    This novel method of thinking is known as "epigenetics". Therefore, hardiness, although largely genetic can also be developed by exposure to stress and passed on to the next generation.  This would give new meaning to the phrase - "survival of the fittest".


    There is evidence in large randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in the scientific research world regarding the efficacy of many psychotropic medications i.e. the medications used in treating mental health conditions. 

    I also believe that there is a lot of use of these medications in routine use, having used them with patients with mental health disorders for the many years that I have practiced psychiatry as well as being a resident trainee in post graduate training programs in the United States. 

    However, there are cultural variables in the acceptance of these medications.  The cultural variables are explained by the fact that mental health was in general, i.e. all over the world, not a very well accepted pathology.  In a sense mental health was not important till it was recognized most recently to be treatable. 

    In the past mental health was treated as a curse or as a social malaise and people were institutionalized in penitentiaries or asylums and sometimes even put to the guillotine.  However, this fact has fast changed with the onset of scientific evidence for the existence of benefits with the use of psycho-therapeutic medications.


    Now that we have concluded that therapy, either talk therapy or medication therapy or a combination of both, is helpful in depression and anxiety we need to know a bit about the medications that are given by us psychiatrists to patients.  


    If you are prescribed a medication, be sure that you:


    • Tell the doctor all medications - either from classical medicine or otherwise and vitamin supplements you are already on.
    • Remind your doctor about allergies and problems you have had with past use of medicines.
    • Understand how to take the medicine before you start using it and take your medicine as instructed.
    • Don't take medicines prescribed for another person or give yours to someone else.
    • Call your doctor right away if you have any problems with your medicine or if you are worried that it might be doing more harm than good. Your doctor may be able to adjust the dose or change your prescription to a different one that may work better for you.


    Inform you Expert about medications and therapy you have taken


    Lastly, when visiting with your psychiatrist or psychotherapist, kindly let them know that you are using only medications or only therapy or both as the case may be.  It sometimes is the case that when one is on therapy for certain conditions the other kind of therapy may not be needed. 

    I also believe that medications are used in many cases to tide over an acute crisis situation and may be needed only for a short term in contradiction to the popular notion that medications for mental health conditions are used for a lifetime and that they cause side effects and are "harmful" for the body.  This is NOT true. 

    One should weigh the risks versus the benefits of the medications and only then mull over the decision to take them or leave them.  This is true with psychotherapy or talk therapy or counseling as well.  It may be best to consult your primary health caregiver for deciding what may be best for you.


    Responses 1

    • Sheena Malviya
      Sheena Malviya   Sep 04, 2016 09:03 PM

      Yes, that is true many people believe that medications for mental health conditions are used for a lifetime and they cause side effects. We need to develop awareness about this. I believe this article solve that purpose. Well articulated and clearly mentioned points. 

  • 16 Nov
    Oyindrila Basu

    Plants Change the definition of Success and Happiness.

    plant psychology

    While we all are struggling and fighting every day, to gain more and more, achieve the tallest building, earn the fastest car and reach the end of the world to call us successful, and finally, end our days, in stress, anxiety and tiredness, our living partners, the green plants and trees are so calm, serene and firm in their own places.

    In fact, there are several life lessons that we can learn from the plants which will change the definition of success and happiness.

    Plants not only help us live and sustain but teaches us every moment in our way to progress.

    1. Plants do not set limits as to how big they can, grow, they just grow as tall as they can- Unlike us humans, who are calculating and setting a bank balance number to define success and works like mad towards achieving that number, which only affects our brain negatively, makes us anxious and leaves us tired, fatigued and full of health problems, plants do not set any such goal.

    They proceed to with the passing days and grow as much as they can with the opportunities they have. They teach us to limit our ambitions and be satisfied with potentials.

    2. The struggle for existence strengthens them- being exposed to harsh weather conditions, wind and rain, plants develop stronger roots and learns to be firm for survival.

    When we humans are easily affected by minor adversities, we should learn from them, to put up a strong face against everything that life offers, the strength of will power is the ultimate force behind our survival.

    3. They take only what they need- they do not suck up all nutrients from the soil, in fact, that can make them spoilt or withered, they take up only the nutrients required for survival.

    In today’s age when we all are fighting to get an extra inch of land, some extra money, some extra facilities, we should learn the value of humility and identify the difference between need and greed from the plants.

    4. Plants are adaptive in nature- They change themselves with the changing seasons.

    During summer they prepare food enough for the rest of the year, again during autumn they shed their leaves to prepare for winter; when it is spring, they flourish with their new green leaves.

    We humans should also behave according to our situation. When we have enough, we should save some for future; when times are bad, we should accustom to our new environment and opportunities too.

    As we had accepted the glories, we should take the gloom too.

    5. Plants turn to sunlight- especially, sunflower and many of its kind get their own light.

    It means, we humans should move towards the positive and find our own happiness even in the gravest of situations.

    6. They neutralize the pollutants- make your own goodness shine through, such that all the negatives around you, turn to positive with your love and best nature.

    7. They are focused on achieving their own potentials- plants do not compare or envy other plants; rather, they are more focused on their own growth and hence they bear an individuality.

    8. Plants add some value for others- They release oxygen with which we breathe, they act as natural air purifiers, each part of the plant is useful to man and other animals, as food, home or other utilities, we all should contribute to our environment in some way or the other and learn to be of help, that will make us selfless and giving.

    Plants teach us satisfaction, perseverance, strength, good will and positivity which always makes us better human beings, and by extracting from them, we can be happy and peaceful, give up our greed and bear the crown of humility.

    If we can give up greed and lust for more; if we can accept every situation with a brave face; when we don’t fear to lose, we can be away from stress and anxiety and that will keep us free from many diseases like heart problems, high blood pressure, panic and palpitation.

    This form of learning will be best for a good mental health and well being.

    Image source