Friday, 7 April 2017

Bar Bar Pucho: IMA Campaign for mental health

Bar Bar Pucho: IMA Campaign for mental health Depression is a major public health problem globally. Latest estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that “depression is now the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. More than 300 million people are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015”. Several factors trigger development of depression: Inability to cope with the fast paced lifestyle of today, stressful events such as psychological trauma, bereavement, financial troubles, unemployment, etc. Then, some chronic illnesses such as diabetes, psoriasis, etc. may be associated with depression. A diagnosis of cancer, a huge life-changing event, may put the affected person in a state of depression. Depression is common in all age groups and affects people from all walks of life. We have all read about Deepika Padukone, a highly successful actor, who seemingly had a perfect life and lacked for nothing, had to battle depression, right at the peak of her career. Classically, a person with depression is depicted as sad, lonely, having no interest in activities that they earlier enjoyed, too much or too little sleep, low self-esteem, hopelessness. But, depression may manifest in many different ways in different people. Anger, irritability, addictions, eating too much or not eating enough, persistent aches and pains, memory problems, fatigue, or other behavioral changes can also be the atypical signs of depression. Sometimes, people may mask their feelings and appear outwardly fine. Depression is a major risk factor for suicide. Suicidal ideation is a medical emergency and about 50% of successful victims have made prior attempts. It is therefore even more important to recognize the symptoms of depression and seek help. Aside from its adverse impact on physical health, there is a social stigma attached to depression. People do not talk about it and also do not ask for help because of the associated guilt and shame. At times, people do not open about depression because of lack of a support system. Hence, there is an urgent need to act against these issues of stigma and prejudice. Because, depression can be prevented and treated, if recognised in time. The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has launched a new campaign “Bar Bar Pucho” to remove the stigma attached to mental disorders. Patients trust their doctors with their health problems and rely on them to help treat their illness. The campaign urges doctors to ask the patient "If he is ok" at each visit and not just focus on writing a prescription. Check on the mental wellbeing of the patient including mood, depression, alcohol use, smoking habits, drug abuse, sexual needs and preferences etc. at every visit. When listening to patients about what they are going through, try not to interpret them. Listen with empathy, without being judgemental or critical. This will foster trust and help the patient to open up about his/her problems, which itself can be therapeutic. Dr KK Aggarwal National President IMA

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