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Get off the couch!

From the young Bollywood star Jiah Khan to Hollywood’s heartthrob Marilyn Monroe, depression has destroyed several women. It is like a cancer that slowly and steadily kills one’s love for life and may even lead to suicide. The World Health Organization estimates that the depressive trend is two to three times more in women than in men. Every year, more than 350 million people around the world die of depression. Surprisingly, India tops the list for having the maximum number of depressed people in the world. Debarati Mukherjee speaks to psychologist Mandira Khandve who offers solutions to help Womentalkonline readers to lead a depression-free life.

Why is depression more prevalent among women than in men? Pune-based clinical psychologist Dr. Mandira Khandve says, “Before adolescence, the rate of depression is same in both men and women. However, with puberty, a girl is twice prone to depression than a boy. Hormonal influx leads to depression and continues in the different stages of a woman’s life like pregnancy, menopause, after giving birth or while facing a miscarriage. In addition to the hormonal changes that she faces during her menses, Premenstrual Syndrome or PMS and premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD- both lead to a depressive condition loaded with anxiety and mood swings.”

Apart from biological factors, there are some psychological traits that prompt women to attempt suicide more often than men. “Women have a tendency to think more deeply than their male counterparts. While this is good, it also is a reason to be depressive. From relationships to career and family, women tend to think more drastically than men. They delve deep into the subject and keep questioning in their minds about the outcomes and hence are more likely to be depressive. If a man faces a failed relationship he will forget it off in a few days or weeks and welcome life anew. Comparatively, when a woman faces a rift in a relationship, she tries to diagnose it and find faults of her own. This self-realization that she enters into provokes her into taking a self-destructive step. Another reason is gender sensitivity in our society. Women are hailed as epitomes of grace and feeble nature. There is a set of rules meant for her and if she fails to comply with them, she has no right to live. This too contributes towards her taking a suicidal step,” explains Dr. Khandve.

According to a WHO report, it is surprising to note that the average age of depression in India is 31.9 years, in China 18.8 years while in the US it is 22.7 years. WHO estimates that by 2020 depression will be the second leading cause of world disability and by 2030 it is expected to be the largest contributor to disease burden. One million lives are lost every year due to suicide, which works out to 3000 suicide deaths daily. How can this be prevented? “There are different levels of depression. If it is at the lower levels it can be treated with some exercises and simple thoughts. But if it has reached its threshold, then medicines and proper clinical treatment is essential. Awareness to this problem is very limited in South Asian countries. People here are aware of breast cancer, tuberculosis and heart attacks, but when it comes to mental health, people are very ignorant about it.”

Exercises to fight depression

From releasing feel-good chemicals in the brain and finally increasing body temperature, exercises can aid in leading a depression-free life. Exercising also helps gain confidence, increases social interaction, releases mind from worries, thereby helping one to lead a positive life.

But what kind of exercises can really help? “Just take thirty minutes out from your busy schedule at least three days a week for yourself. Combine resistance and aerobic exercises together to build strength and endurance. This will help in leading a dejection free life. You can also join in for yoga classes, attend spa sessions to relax your mind and meditate for few minutes regularly. If you do not find these interesting, you can also opt for less intense activities like gardening, washing your car or strolling around the block. Always remember you are exercising to lift your mood, so just get off from the couch and get going,” directs Dr. Khandve.

Author: Debarati Mukherjee

Editor: Manasi Gopalakrishnan


04.07.2013 | 10:55