Depression is on the rise in India and those working in the fast paced corporate sector are susceptible to its depredations. Last year, the apex trade association Assocham India reported that 42.5% of employees in the private sector are afflicted with depression or general anxiety disorders. The study cited increasingly demanding schedules and high stress levels as the underlying cause behind these figures. Delhi was cited as having the highest number of depressed and stressed employees.
There is a fair chance that someone at your workplace suffers from depression (it could even be you). However, being vigilant also means being able to identify and pinpoint the difference between a low or stressful phase and clinical depression.
The symptoms include:
– Loss of focus over an extended period of time
– A huge change in appetite, such as a steep decline or binge-eating
– A dip in energy levels, drive and motivation
– Extreme sensitivity to criticism, while becoming overtly critical of others
– Snappiness and irritability
– Lack of socialising and mingling: no coffee or tea breaks with other employees or friends, and
forced or insincere smiles
– Inability to take decisions
– Complaints about physical exhaustion and body pain
Mental experts have suggested a few things you can do to help a colleague (or yourself):
1. Be calm: “It is important for you to not get anxious or stressed,” . “If you get worked up, you’re not in any position to help a colleague who is in distress.”
2. Share a story: “You may not have too many stressful stories of your own to share. But sharing any experience can pave the way to a conversation, which helps,” advises Dr Era Dutta, consultant psychiatrist.
3. Stay alert. Be on the alert for signs of any suicidal tendencies. “All dangerous items that are potentially harmful including sharp objects, pills and poisonous substances need to be removed,”
4. Never say: “Get on with it. This is life!” “This could send them spiralling further,” likening this approach to rubbing salt on the wound. Be supportive instead of confusing them further about their vulnerable state – depression is not something they can help.
5. Respect their wishes: Space is important. “Your colleague may need a time-out every now and then, so don’t be over intrusive,” says Dr Dutta. “Sometimes one can find solace in being alone.
7. Don’t get hurt or affronted easily. Always remember that you are helping out, so if the depressed individual lashes out at you, don’t take it personally, or list it as unprofessional behaviour. “It’s the depression talking, not your colleague, so don’t give up on them,” says Dr Dutta.
MD Psychiatry, DNB Psychiatry, MBBS