Hi. My name is Ravi. I am 20 years old. I live in Mumbai with my parents. My father is an employee in a private company and my mother is a homemaker. I am currently doing my diploma in engineering.

When I was younger, I was very fond of gadgets, video games and bikes. The first time I was introduced to internet games was when I was in class 9. I used to go to cyber cafes and play games for 3-4 hours. I used to finish school and head straight to the cyber café or to a friend’s place and play video games till night. When my parents found out, they tried to stop me, but I wouldn’t listen to them. I passed my class 10 exams with some difficulty. But after my board exams got over, I started playing games even more-for about 7-8 hours everyday. I also loved phones and bikes and would force my parents to buy me new ones very often. It came to a point where I started stealing money from my father for games and mobile phones. I used to feel very guilty about all this, but was unable to stop myself from doing it. I started smoking to deal with my guilt. I had no friends, my parents were really tired of my behaviour and finally, I failed my class 12 exams.

At that point I decided enough was enough. I told my father about all my problems and begged him to help me get out of such destructive behavior. My parents took me to a psychiatrist. The doctor asked me about all my problems and heard everything very patiently. He told me that I could get out of all these problems if I was motivated enough to follow all his instructions. I told him I felt very low. He said that I was addicted to internet games and also had depression because of it. He gave me some medicines but also said I would have to regularly meet a psychologist. I agreed to do whatever I was asked to. I started meeting the psychologist who helped me understand my problem and why it happened. She also made me a schedule of activities that I would have to follow everyday to keep myself occupied. It seemed easy, but when I started doing it, I did miss playing video games. A few times I even played, but the doctor and the psychologist helped me come back on track.

I started feeling better within 1-2 months and kept following what I was told. Today it has been 2 years since I have stopped playing internet games completely. I enjoy playing actual games with real friends. I have also managed to get back to my studies and my parents are relieved. I would like to tell anyone who is reading this that anything is possible in life. If one is willing to work hard, and with the correct help, everything is possible. If you are suffering, please talk about it with someone you trust and get help.


20 ways to care for your mental health in the COVID times

  1. Be Regular with your sleep habits
  2. Take care of your physical health – ‘Healthy mind resides in a healthy body’
  3. Regular exercise releases ‘Happy Hormones’ in your brain
  4. Be mindful of your eating habits
  5. Avoid binging on food. It may be a sign of underlying stress
  6. Use substances in moderation. Never as a stress buster
  7. If you think you cannot control your substance use – Seek Help!
  8. Work is not worship! Remember to ‘switch off’ outside your office
  9. Like exercise your mind also needs constructive activities. Give yourself new experiences
  10. Devote at least 2 hours a week to your passion that makes you truly happy
  11. Be mindful of your thoughts and feelings. Negativity hurts you and others around you
  12. Judge others by their intentions and not their actions
  13. Temper your expectations from others. What you cannot control hurts you the most
  14. Best way to deal with stress is to anticipate it. Be prepared
  15. Manage your time effectively
  16. Show gratitude to others. Be grateful for what life has given you
  17. Don’t bottle up your angst. Share your thoughts and feelings with those close to you
  18. Listen to people around you. Maybe they need your help
  19. Take a conscious effort to reduce your use of gadgets
  20. Make time for your family and friends. They make your life what it is!

Mental health – A silent pandemic

The whole world is in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has brought countries to a standstill and has stirred up the whole health care infrastructure into action in a matter of a few months. In contrast, a silent pandemic has been forever raging globally and in India. This is the pandemic of suicide and depression. It is estimated that 15% of India’s population i.e around 150 million people will experience depression in their lifetime. Annually around 200,000 people commit suicide in India. Many of them in the young age of 15-35 years. And unlike a viral pandemic which is a time limited event; the mental health pandemic has always been around us.

The approaches to these infectious pandemics include – Test, Trace and Isolate. An active approach to go after the virus and contain the spread. The mental health pandemic needs a different approach of spreading compassion and empathy, to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. The mental health pandemic does not need ‘social distancing’ but ‘social openness’. Provide an enabling environment where a person with mental distress can feel comfortable and reach out for help. Ask and Listen, Talk and Express, Share and Care.

An immediate threat such as a viral infection seems more daunting and galvanises the whole public health machinery. No doubt the world needs to come together to fight COVID-19 and overcome it we shall. Let us fight the new virus in town but can we show the same resolve, galvanise the same resources, gear the public health machinery to fight a much larger silent epidemic?

⦁ Dr Rishikesh V. Behere
⦁ Consultant Psychiatrist, Manoshanti Pune


Our personality and mental health – The secret to wellbeing

The science of wellbeing is intertwined with our personality which determine how we
interact with the environment. One of the strong factor about wellbeing stems from
one’s personality style. When we look at personality, it is strongly biological (which
means we have certain style of personality by birth) and there is a constant
interaction with the people around us and the situations which shapes our
Personality is the consistent pattern of thinking, feeling and behavior over a period of
time, while our ‘Mind’ is the face of our personality! Each individual has a unique
personality just as how our face is unique to each individual. Its shapes during our
childhood and adolescent period and becomes constant when we become adults.
We are not born with all the skills to navigate the ups and downs of life and our
personality factors determine how well we adapt and learn while we live through our
lives. It is very important to understand one’s own strength and limitations and to
learn to adapt to situations within the limits of our personality. As the famous saying
goes “One man’s meat is another man’s poison!”. Hence do not try to ape other
people. Be comfortable with who you are as a person and you will find that once you
accept this fact you will be able to modulate your thoughts and feelings better to your
advantage. This a key secret to achieving emotional well being.

– Dr. Girish Babu N.
– Associate Professor of Psychiatry, SDM Medical College, Dharwad


Why is mental health important?

The World Health Organization defines health as “A state of complete physical,
mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or
infirmity” and there can be no health without mental health. Yet when we go for a
health check up we are are only concerned about our BP,  sugar and cholesterol
levels. If they are normal we think we are healthy.
But have you ever paused to think “How stressed am I?”’ “Am I sleeping well?”, “Am
I happy with my life?”, “Do I feel irritated easily and snap at people more?”, “Which
way are my personal relationships headed?”, “Do I get a sense of relief if I smoke or
consume alcohol or pop sleeping pills?”, “Do exams and deadlines give you
nightmares?” Your answers to these questions may make you pause and rethink!
Mental health is essentially defined by 3 components – the way you think (thoughts),
the way you feel (emotions) and the way you behave (behavior) and these need to
be in perfect sync with your physical health for you to perform effectively and
efficiently as an individual. A disturbance in any one of them can disturb the sync
and seriously undermine your efficiency as an individual.
If you want to be healthy it is equally important to care for your mental health

as well!

– Dr Rishikesh V. Behere
– Consultant Psychiatrist, Manoshanti Pune



My name is Anisha and I am 25 years old. I have completed a degree in mass communications from Pune. I am doing a job and currently live in Bangalore. I wanted to share my story so that it may help others like me. I moved to Bangalore about a year and a half back for my first job. It was anyway a tough time for me as I had recently had a break up with my boy friend. But moving to a new city where I had no friends made things even more difficult.

I remember that I was very happy when I was offered the job, but by the time I moved to Bangalore, there was something different. It is difficult to explain, but I was not feeling good at all. Initially I thought that it was only because of my break up, but slowly I realized that I was losing interest in work too. I would not sleep at night and then the next day would be so sleepy that I could barely get any work done. I was also very worried about it, because this was my first job and I wanted to create a good impression at my workplace, but it just wasn’t happening. I would suddenly start crying and would feel low most of the time. Now, I am an educated girl, and I knew about depression, but for some reason, it didn’t strike me that that was what I was going through. A senior colleague noticed that I was struggling and recommended that I see a psychiatrist.

Initially I was very hesitant…why should I see a psychiatrist? Was something really that wrong with me? I decided to see a psychologist first, because that seemed less threatening. So I met a psychologist. She was extremely patient with me and heard everything I had to say. Over 2-3 meetings, she convinced me to see a psychiatrist and told me it was important. I went with her advice and was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. The doctor was also very kind and put to rest my fears about taking medicines. She told me I had moderate depression and with medicines and sessions with the psychologist, there was a great chance that I would feel much better. And she was right!

The medicines slowly helped make my mood better and in my sessions with the psychologist, I gained a lot of clarity about the way I think and how that was causing me to feel so anxious and low all the time. My work performance also improved a lot. I won’t lie and say that it is all very easy. Even with medication, there are days when I don’t feel very good, but now I know how to deal with such feelings. The feelings do not overwhelm me anymore. I also realized that what I was going through was quite common among people my age. That made me feel less alone and less guilty.

I have now had a lived experience of how mental health is as important as physical health. I have also learned that there are many good days and some bad days, but that’s okay. It is okay to talk about it to friends, family and/or your therapist. I am genuinely thankful to my colleague who put me on the path to recovery as well as my doctor and psychologist.

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The dark cloud hovering over millions of lives-Depression

Nineteen year old Deepika has just joined a good engineering college in the city. She has been a good student and got to choose her branch of specialization in engineering. She stays in the college hostel. For the past one month, Deepika has been feeling uneasy. She finds it difficult to wake up on time for her classes. Even at class, she is unable to concentrate on what is being taught. She is late in submitting assignments and this causes her a lot of panic. She feels uninterested in activities in college and outside. She has also become short tempered and gets into verbal fights with her family members for trivial reasons. Her family and friends have been noticing these changes, but they think it is just a phase and she will be fine. Soon, her mid-term exams start. Deepika appears for 2 papers with great difficulty, but knows that she has not done well. Before the third paper, she calls up her father and cries incessantly over the phone saying she cannot appear for the exam and wants to quit engineering. Her parents get concerned and immediately travel to meet her. They try consoling her to no avail. They tell her to just give the exams and not worry or bother about the results, but she absolutely refuses. Seeing her state, they consult a psychiatrist. After speaking to Deepika and her parents at length, the psychiatrist comes to the conclusion that she is suffering from depression. 

 Depression is one of the most common mental disorders and is growing at an alarming rate. It affects people of all ages, however is most common among the ages of 15-40 years. If not treated, it can lead to worsening of symptoms, major disruption in one’s day to day functioning and in severe cases may even lead to death by way of suicide. 

However, many people do not know what depression is. Is feeling low the same as being depressed? Read on to know.

Depression is a mood disorder in which a person experiences low mood, loses interest in activities, feels tired easily. There are also disturbances in sleep and appetite. This doesn’t mean that anyone feeling low for a few days is suffering from depression. For someone to be diagnosed with clinical depression, the three signs mentioned above need to be present for most of the time for 2 weeks or longer. If the low mood is a consequence of a life event and subsides in less than two weeks, it is unlikely to be clinical depression. 

Other signs may include isolating oneself from family and friends, inability to focus on work or studies, getting irritated easily, not being able to perform routine activities with ease such as getting up on time, taking a bath, getting to college/office on time, wishing for death or thinking about suicide.

When the psychiatrist told her parents that Deepika is suffering from depression, they found it difficult to believe or understand it. After all, no one in their own family had ever had depression. The how could Deepika have it? 

The psychiatrist had to explain that after a lot of research, it has been established that there is an inadequacy of a neurotransmitter (chemical) called serotonin in the brain of people with depression. Exactly what leads to this chemical imbalance is not known. However, it is an extremely important finding as correcting this imbalance gives people relief from the symptoms of depression. Genetics also have a role to play. One whose parent/s or sibling/s have depression has a slightly higher chance of getting depressed themselves, but this certainly does not mean that depression is only caused by genetic predisposition.

An important thing to note is that there may be psychological as well as social reasons responsible for causing or triggering an episode of depression. Psychological reasons include set patterns of negative thinking and inability to cope with negative life events. Social factors may include any negative life event such as  the loss of a loved one, break up in a relationship, unmanageable stress at work or at home, failure in an examination etc.  

To put it in a nutshell, the causes of depression are a mixture of biological, genetic, psychological and social factors. 

Deepika reported to the psychiatrist in the presence of her parents that she had started feeling very lonely after about a month of joining the course. She was away from her family for the first time. She had been unable to make too many close friends because everyone was very busy and classes and practicals took up most of their time. She also found it difficult to live in the hostel and hated the food there. Basically, moving out of her hometown and living away from family was a stressful situation for Deepika. She was not used to living by herself. Added to the stress of the new surroundings, the pressure of studies and exams took a toll on her mental health. She used to feel like she was the only one who was unable to adjust and felt like a failure. When asked as to why she did not confide about her feelings into anyone, she said she was worried that her parents might get very concerned about her. She also felt a certain amount of guilt at not being able to give her best to her studies. All these things finally led her to depression. 

When should one seek treatment? If you notice yourself having symptoms mentioned above, however, they do not currently interfere with your ability to carry out day to day tasks, and there are no ideas of suicide, you may wait for 1 to 2 weeks before seeing a doctor. However, if the symptoms increase in intensity or are the same after even 1-2 weeks, you must see a doctor immediately. If there has been a past episode of depression, it is advised to see a psychiatrist at the first sign of return of symptoms. In Deepika’s case, she waited long enough to tell her parents and see a psychiatrist for her symptoms to worsen.  Now her parents were worried as to what would happen to their daughter and how she would come out of this

Is Help Available? Yes, absolutely. Depression is treatable. There are different modes of treatment.  There are medicines that help restore the chemical balance in the brain and provide relief from symptoms. Among psychological forms of treatment, cognitive behavior therapy is highly used. A trained psychologist talks to the affected person, and helps them identify the negative patterns of thinking as well as helps them learn how to cope with difficult life situations. A number of times, both medication and therapy are used together to get best results, at other times, either of the two is used. Which mode of treatment is the best for one should only be decided by a qualified psychiatrist. 

The psychiatrist treated Deepika with medications and referred her to a psychologist who started therapy with her. She was taught how to cope with a stressful situation successfully and how to seek support. Her parents were also given more information about depression. Deepika started feeling better in 4-5 weeks. She continued her sessions with her psychologist and in about 2 months, was able to resume college without major difficulties. Her parents were happy with the outcome and thanked God that they sought timely help for their daughter. 

What happens if you do not treat depression? Untreated depression may lead to complications like:

 Existing symptoms becoming more severe, 

Substance abuse

Ideas/attempts of suicide

Depression is becoming more and more prevalent everyday and needs to be treated like any other disorder of the human body. Most people with adequate treatment are able to function normally. It is only a matter of reaching out to family, friends and professionals for support. Don’t let the dark cloud overpower you, fight it!