Talk candidly to curb depression

Talk candidly to curb depression

We are getting used to a shielded, politically correct language that perfectly camouflages our true selves. Have a word with someone about to commit suicide, or murder and he will tell “it’s all fine,” without a twist in his demeanour. And what transpires a few minutes later, is revealed to the world through the news media the next day.

Assurances by political leaders apart, the official information also needs sieving to find out the truth. With diminished regard for words, they don’t come to our rescue when direly needed. The mantras too appear disabled of sorts to conjure the spirits any more. Some unwritten norms stipulate that others should have no inkling of our core issues.

Surveys report that over 75% of the Facebook posts are camouflaged and the largest numbers of lies are conveyed through social sites. Digital devices conceal more than they reveal, so to say. “The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate,” said Joseph Priestley.

Unwillingness or difficulty in sharing or venting out one’s emotions with others can lead to loneliness, alienation and depression, a major mental disorder affecting some 10-20 % of the world population , China, India and the US standing atop.

Psychiatrists say that persistence of half of such symptoms as sadness, emptiness, anxiety, helplessness, difficulty in enjoying things, loss of concentration or memory, insomnia or oversleep, change in eating pattern, gaining weight or losing weight, irritability, suicidal thoughts for two weeks implies depression.

In real dialogue, there is more to communicate than words do. Peter F Drucker said, “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.” Even otherwise, language has never been the sole, best or most reliable medium to communicate and in many cases, the words more often miscommunicate rather than serving the purpose.

Were the words the only way to express intent, it would have been impossible for the deaf and dumb to communicate. Nor can we say that among themselves the hearing and speech impaired communicate any less than others. But for people not trained in non-verbal gestures, words remain the sole means of communication. 

Creative writers have often regretted the dearth of words. On a language so rich as English, with a storehouse of over 10 lakh words, poet T S Eliot lamented, “Alas, the words are so inadequate.” The other constraint with language is the limited word knowledge people have. So, in the heat of conversations, people speak out whichever verbal equivalent occurs to them, leading to altercations.

Former US president Richard Nixon said, “We cannot learn from one another until we stop shouting at one another, until we speak quietly enough so that our words can be heard as well as our voices.”

Empathetic ear
Each one of us needs a shoulder to lie upon, which is hard to find, because everyone is fighting their own battles. A character by Russian author Anton Chekhov, narrates his daily story to his horse because he didn’t find any listeners. It provided him much needed satisfaction.

The reverberations and dilemmas of the heart are best settled when there is one to share. A rapport between two individuals establishes only when they share their concerns in the spirit of camaraderie with uninhibited two-way flow of vibes, assured of each other’s intent.

The theme of World Health Day on April 7, “Depression: Let’s Talk,” urges to promote this sort of ‘talk’ in earnest to curb the growing menace of depression. The WHO estimates that over three crore people suffer from depression globally, and by 2020, it will be the largest cause of disability worldwide. Worse, children as young as five years are showing signs of depression. While at home, the recently declared National Health Policy 2017 dwells on the issue of Mental Health in para 4.7 in just 75 words, brushing aside an issue as serious as this.

Depression is a lifestyle disorder, and can be best addressed by suitably binding ethical and humane elements in communication and education, besides orienting our young generation to spirituality and yoga.