By Dr. Rachna Khanna Singh
- Nearly 7.5 percent of people in India suffer from some form of mental health disorder according to a report conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Mental illness comprises one of the sixth of all health-related issues.
- There is a lack of awareness about mental illness and a lot of people may not be even aware that they are suffering from a mental health condition
Depression and anxiety disorders are amongst the most common mental health conditions. Although symptoms may differ from individual to individual some of the common symptoms include sadness, reduced interest in most activities, fatigue, diminished ability to think, focus or concentrate, loss of self-esteem, disturbed sleep, gloomy vision of the future, fluctuations in appetite or weight.
The untimely demise of the Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput has turned the spotlight on a growing trend of depression and suicide among celebrities. 34-year-old Sushant who committed suicide at his Bandra residence in Mumbai was reportedly suffering from depression. His body was found hanging from the ceiling in his home.
This brings us to the basic question why is depression and suicide so common among celebrities? Why are celebrities more vulnerable to mental health issues such as depression?
While it is still too early to say why and what led Sushant to end his life, depression is a silent killer with high suicide rate among young people, especially celebrities. People who become famous usually experience more pressure than ordinary people, which can magnify the risk of mental disorders and create havoc in their personal and professional lives.
Irrespective whether we admit it or not depression is fairly common in the entertainment industry. There is a lot of pressure and role-play involved to segregate reel and real life and make the right moves both on-screen and off-screen, be in news for the right reasons and keep in touch with the right people.
Depression, psychosis, or anxiety, does not need a big reason or viral infection – a loss of job, financial crisis, or social crisis or sense of isolation can lead an otherwise ‘normal and healthy looking’ individual at commit suicide.
Even Celebrities aren’t superior beings from Planet Mars. They too feel hurt and pain. It is a common mistake to assume that they have everything they ever wanted. Luxurious lifestyle, money and fame are not shock-absorbers which can shield a person from mental illness, unhappiness, loneliness, stress, anxiety or depression.
Behind the closed doors of the extravagant and lavishly decorated homes, many of the world’s most famous celebrities are fighting their own battles against depression. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) globally over 300 million people regardless of culture, age, gender, religion, race or economic status suffer from depression.
Being a celebrity status does not mean one way ticket to good health, wealth and happiness and at the same time immunity from depression, anxiety or stress. Rather at times it is like a tread-mill – the faster you run — the more likely you are to run out of breadth and reach nowhere.
Even today depression is an illness that knows no boundaries and is predicted to soon become the leading cause of disability worldwide. As depression statistics continue to rise, it is all the more important than ever to remove the negative stigma that surrounds it.
The worst part of the story is that nearly half the people suffering from depression –don’t even know that they need attention and the other half continue to suffer from depression in silence because of the stigma associated with the disease.
What we need to do is to drill home the fact that likes any other illness there is nothing wrong with depression. Many celebrities including British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Neil Armstrong, the first astronaut to walk on the moon, Agatha Christie, Alastair Campbell, Hollywood actors and famous personalities like Halle Berry, Brooke Shields, Jim Carrey, Mandy Moore, Ashley Judd, Michelangelo, Vincent van Gogh, John Keats Charles Dickens Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Virginia Wolf Tennessee Williams have suffered from different forms of mild to severe depression.
Some of the celebrities who have gone through depression due to professional bad phase and admitted it to be so in India include Bollywood actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Parveen Babi, Deepika Padukone, Anushka Sharma, and Manisha Koirala
Another such talked about case of suicide among celebrities is that of Kushal Punjabi who was found dead in his Mumbai flat, apparently by hanging himself to death. It was found that he was suffering from depression and resorted to killing himself.
One of the most common fallouts of depression is suicide. Suicide is not a new trend, especially among celebrities. It is not limited by the line of work. From a fashion designer, entrepreneur, politician, or musician anyone can commit suicide. Celebrity suicides usually make big news and are widely talked about because of its high profile nature of the individual who committed suicide.
A lot of the individuals keep boggling their heads as to why this bunch of privileged layers ends up taking their own lives when they have a lot of resources at their disposal. There are myriad situations, conditions, and causes for a person to want to take his/her own life particularly when it comes to celebs. One of the most common reasons or the main culprit is loneliness.
Loneliness can be seen as one of the reasons particularly when it comes to the crème-de-la-crème of our world. The reason always may not be because of mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. But having said that loneliness can be quoted as a cause for such suicidal tendencies. It often gets lonely being at top of the Hierarchy. They find themselves alone and isolated on an island of fame and recognition as loneliness creates a separation from the outer world. Often celebrities are put on a pedestal where they are expected to be of a certain structure. They are not left alone once they come in the public’s light often followed by the so-called paparazzi. And in today’s social media era it is expected off of them to be somewhat cool sharing their entire life, every minute details of their lives without thinking of it as an intrusion or hindrance to their personal lives. A lot of the times they are expected to keep their so-called private lives “public “causing them huge stress.
All of the above-mentioned reasons are not to say that mental health problems don’t affect suicidal thoughts. Celebrities at the height of their fame are prone to anxiety and depression due to isolation and the feeling to meet unreasonable expectations of the public.
Dr. Rachna Khanna Singh is Head of Department of Holistic Medicine & Psychology at Artemis Hospital and has worked with leading hospitals like Fortis, Escorts, and Dharamshila Cancer Hospital. Her areas of speciality include Lifestyle & Stress Management. The views expressed are her own
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