Deepika Padukone, the Padmaavat actress who has become one of the most popular faces in Bollywood, revealed something heartbreaking in 2015. The actress revealed that she was battling depression and anxiety in 2014 and finding her ray of sunshine when she was in the darkest place with the support of her family, friends and therapist.
As someone who has suffered from depression, Deepika talked about the need to destigmatise mental health issues and be more open about them. In numerous interviews she has given since, she has discussed the challenges faced by someone who has a psychological problem and she wants to change the way it is treated in India. To spread awareness about the illness and encourage people to seek help, she founded The Live Love Laugh Foundation by Deepika Padukone in 2015.
The Live Love Laugh Foundation, as a non-profit organisation, helps people understand the three words that spell happiness - live, love and laugh. The organisation champions the cause of mental health and stands against the stigma that keeps people from asking for help.
A study by World Economic Forum showed that in India, people perceive mental illness survivors as ‘retarded’, people who talk to themselves and ‘crazy’. Terms like these are what fuel the stigma in the country, and stops the survivors from leading a normal and fruitful life. In the same study, it was found that 68% of the focus group believed that people suffering from a mental illness should not be given any responsibilities.
Statistics state that 6-7% of India’s population suffers from a mental health problem, but do you know how many actually seek help? Only 10-15% because of the lack of access to help. That’s the gap TLLLF aims to fill.
According to the World Health Organisation, every 1 out of 4 people will suffer from anxiety and depression in their lifetime, so organisations such as TLLLF are the need of the hour. In India, there are about 3,500 trained psychiatrists, which makes there are only 3 per a million people.
In 2015, Deepika Padukone revealed in an interview with journalist Barkha Dutt that she suffered from anxiety and depression. She also wrote an article in a leading newspaper talking about how she reached her diagnosis. She said, “There were days when I would feel okay, but at times, within a day, there was a roller-coaster of feelings. Finally, I accepted my condition. The counselling helped, but only to an extent. Then I took medication, and today I am much better. I took a two-month break to recover mentally and physically. I spent time with my family in Bengaluru and was soon better. But, when I returned to Mumbai, I heard about a friend committing suicide due to anxiety and depression. It was a huge blow.
My personal experience as well as my friend’s death urged me to take up this issue, which isn’t usually talked about. There is shame and stigma attached to talking about depression. In fact, one in every four people suffer from anxiety and depression. The World Health Organisation has stated that this will be the most widespread epidemic in the next few years. We talk about all kinds of ailments, but this is probably one of the deadliest mental disorders. I am now working on an initiative to create awareness about anxiety and depression, and help people. My team is working with me to formulate a plan, which will be unveiled soon.”
It was Deepika's mother, Ujjala Padukone, who realised that her daughter needed help when she broke down in front her. Back then, Deepika was shooting the climax of Happy New Year (2014) and finding it increasingly difficult to get through a day at work. After talking to a psychologist who is also a family friend, she found out that she was suffering from depression and anxiety. Later, therapy and medication made her better.
The Tamasha actress won hearts when she didn't shy away from discussing her own vulnerabilities, despite the stigma attached to psychological disorders. in 2015, Deepika launched The Live Love Laugh Foundation and became one of the first Bollywood celebrities to talk about her mental health issues. Many others soon followed. Her organisation has a panel of experts and volunteers who carry out on-ground activities as well as raise awareness about psychological disorders. TLLLF is developing helplines for those who need to speak to a specialist, collaborating with NGOs, and training General Practitioners. On a personal front, Deepika is also the brand ambassador of Indian Psychiatric Society that champions the cause of mental health.
If you are in distress, you can ask for support on the website or share your story. There are also professional therapists listed on the website who can help you, or someone you love, come out of it stronger.
When it comes to mental health, The Live Love Laugh Foundation focuses on anxiety, depression and stress - the three most common mental health problems in our country. On the website, The Live Love Laugh Foundation has a specific section dedicated to each of these illnesses, which will help you understand them better. Learn more about these and sit down someone in your life who tells you ‘it’s just a phase’.
Feeling anxious is often brushed away and the root cause of the emotion is not discussed. Anxiety can cause you to be constantly nervous, scared or uncomfortable, and it can also lead to sleep disorders, muscle tension and fatigue.
From generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social phobia, post-traumatic stress disorder to obsessive compulsive disorder, there are different types of anxiety disorders. The website helps you understand what may be triggering your anxiety and what can be the causes of it. The most helpful aspect of his section is the test, which helps you determine where you stand with your anxiety and how soon you should be seeing a therapist or a doctor. So if you think you have been showing signs of anxiety, don’t think twice before taking the test - it is free.
Depression is so much more than just feeling low or sad; it is a genuine mental illness and the trigger can be found and fixed. The website focuses on helping you understand the type of depression you may be suffering from - major depressive disorder, treatment resistant depression or persistent / chronic depressive disorder. There are also other types of depression that are often overlooked. Manic depressive disorder, secondary depression, psychotic depression, postpartum depression, substance-induced mood disorder, seasonal depression and masked depression are different forms of depression that you can read about and diagnose on the website.
It will also lead you through the different causes and triggers of these forms of depression. There is also a test on the website called the Zung Self-Rating Anxiety Scale which helps you understand the current status of your situation. Once you are done and ready to ask for help, the website offers you different pointers like seeking professional help, starting a new activity, keeping away from negative influences, setting realistic goals for yourself and more.
‘I’m so stressed out’ is not just a way to answer how your day at work went. Stress, when it gets overwhelming, can hinder your daily activities. The website begins with helping you understand the type of stress you may be suffering from. Acute stress, episodic stress, chronic stress and post-traumatic stress, it helps you make a simple diagnosis, followed by symptoms of each and understanding the cause behind it all.
The Live Love Laugh Foundation also helps you understand what may have triggered your current bout of stress and if you are ready to seek help post your diagnoses, then it gives you a list of six easy steps. These steps range from writing down your feelings and seeking professional help to eating a balanced diet - all simple things that will help you manage your stress.
There are three programmes available where you can help. There is one designed for schools, so if you are a teacher or a student, you can register on the website and spread awareness about mental health. One the other hand, if you are a general practitioner, you can also sign up for a small training programme that will help you identify and diagnose your patients with mental illnesses. However, if you don’t fall in any of these categories, you can donate to the website.
The website has a section dedicated to those who need help. You can pick from a large list of helplines that are just a phone call away. However, if you would prefer a face-to-face interaction, then the foundation also offers a section on therapists. From a psychotherapist, psychiatrist, psychologist, to a counsellor, there is a list of them available in every state. There is a phone number and email id attached to the name of each therapist and you can book an appointment to see them when you are ready.
Your mental and emotional health is just as important as your physical health. If you are having suicidal thoughts or if you're unable to cope with the stress in your life, seek help immediately. There are treatments available and you will feel much better. Talk to your family and friends, count on them to help you through it.
You can reach out to the foundation here.
Images - India TV, Live Love Laugh Foundation Instagram
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