NEW DELHI: An "advisory" by the Union health and family welfare ministry to people battling depression to treat it with tips such as taking multi-vitamins and eating fruits has been slammed by mental health experts for being "naive" and "inadequate".
On Tuesday, the ministry had put out a tweet which said: "#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." In a poster that accompanied it, it was also advised that people dealing with the condition should follow a routine, travel, do yoga, take multi-vitamins, sleep for minimum 8 hours, stay clean and be creative. It also advised such pato go for walks, eat fruits and think positive.
Experts, however, pointed out that the World Health Organisation defines depression as "the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide." It also says that more than 300 million people are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18 per cent between 2005 and 2015."
Ajit Bhide, president of Indian Psychiatric Society said that the government message was "naive" for such a "serious issue." "The advisory issued by the health ministry has a set of good lifestyle tips but they are not enough for a condition like depression which can be quite serious and can lead to even suicide." "Such patients need at least medical attention and ideally psychiatric help to tackle the illness," he added.
Mukesh Jagiwala, a neuro-psychiatrist in Surat said that the government had "trivialised" depression by suggesting such simplistic steps. "The tips provided in the poster can help people deal with stress but depression is often deeper and can be endogenous, exogenous or reactive. Also, in many cases it is often accompanied by anxiety which makes it more complicated," he said.
Depression, with which an estimated 56 million Indias or 4.5 per cent of the population in the country suffers, has been considered a taboo as people suffering from mental illnesses are often stigmatised. But in recent times many celebrities including actor Deepika Padukone, Sanjay Dutt, Varun Dhawan and director Karan Johar have revealed their experiences of dealing with it.