Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide, and it can be fatal. The major challenge in the treatment of depression is that people are still afraid to speak openly about it. Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his recent speech ‘Mann Ki Baat’ has advised people to come out and speak about their battle with depression.
With the rising burden of the illness as in-person therapy with a doctor isn’t always an option. A new chatbot app, Woebot, could be an alternative.
What is Woebot?
Woebot is an automated chatbot that helps people monitor their mood and help them to know about themselves. It basically works on a framework of CBT- Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, wherein it helps people to keep track of their feelings and triggering events. Woebot asks people about their daily experiences and records them in format of brief conversations.
A review of studies published recently in the journal World Psychiatry compared people who received CBT online to people who did it in person, and found that the online setting was just as effective.
Woebot, an artificial intelligence-powered chatbot designed using cognitive behavioral therapy is not a replacement for the traditional therapy, but addition to clinical approaches to treating depression.
Stigma in mental health has been prevalent for centuries. Most of us within society still view the symptoms of mental health problem as unpredictable and dangerous. For decades, individuals suffering with psychiatric problems, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, are considered insane or “mad”. They often have to face exclusion either within society, workplace, and at times even within ones own family.
Anxiety, Depression, Substance use are still considered as signs of weakness and not as biological disorders of brain. These are treatable health problems like any other medical conditions to which people refuse to seek professional help due fear of exposure and stigma.
There is no denying that the society is becoming more aware than before, especially with many high profile celebrities such as Deepika Padukone or Catherine Zeta-Jones discussing openly about their illnesses in media. Yet, there are some firmly held beliefs and stigmatising attitudes that continues to prevail in our society.
The stigma can be of two types: A social stigma, which is a discriminating attitudes against those suffering from mental health problems as a result of the psychiatric diagnosis/label they have been given. The second is a perceived stigma, which is their perceptions of discrimination, internalised by mental health sufferers. It can significantly lower their self esteem, instil a feeling of shame, and most importantly leads to poor treatment outcome.
Following are some commonly held misconceptions and beliefs-
1) The common being that people suffering from mental health problems are dangerous and violent, especially those with schizophrenia or bipolar.
2) Some believe that problems of depression and anxiety are part of normal living and can be dealt with by just “being positive”and “being more social”.
3) There is a general belief that eating disorders and substance abuse are self inflicted.
4) Still many consider that people suffering from mental health problems such as schizophrenia, depression, bipolar are unemployable.
5) Getting “dependent” or “addicted” to psychiatric medicine is another common misconception that is widespread, even amongst the educated.
Research suggests that significant number adolescents with mental health problems face stigma and discrimination within their own family, peers, teachers and school staffs. Surprisingly, there is a widespread stigma amongst the medical professionals as mental health is given low priority by hospitals, physicians and doctors of other specialties.
What has caused stigma?
Historically, the cause of mental health problems were believed to be due to demonic or spirit possession, such explanations would almost certainly give rise to reactions of fear and discrimination. Media too had played an important role in perpetuating stigmatising stereotypes of people with psychiatric problems. The cinematic depictions of ECT (electro convulsive therapy) or so called “Shock treatment”, or schizophrenia are often stereotypic and characterised by misinformation about mental health symptoms and its treatment. There is strong negative portrayal of schizophrenia in movies, showing the schizophrenia characters as being violent, homicidal and aggressive.
Stigma not only leads to social exclusion, low esteem, poor quality of life, but also poorer treatment outcomes and recovery from mental problems. It has been seen that people tend to hold to these stigma regardless of their age, background or education. Stigma is evident in the way laws, social services, and the justice system are structured as well as ways in which resources are allocated. The solution may not be so simple but needs to be multifaceted. Simply raising voices and providing information will not help, but their is a need to challenge the existing negative stereotypes especially as they are portrayed in general media as well.
Going through a relationship breakup is like getting trapped in the stormy brain chemistry of loss and rejection. The feelings include of anxiety, depression, feelings of grief and addiction, also the desperate attempts to deal with the emotional pain of rejection; this all is a result of the drops in serotonin and dopamine levels during the phase of a relationship breakup. One would often struggle to resist the temptation to stalk, plead, and make a needy fool of oneself. The ultimate goal here is to come through this ordeal in one piece and perhaps even stronger.
Following are some healthy coping ways to help you deal with a breakup:
1) Block them from your facebook/whatsapp.
Unfollow or block them; because you need space and time to heal. Seeing your ex on Facebook wall or seeing him pop up on Whats app/Instagram, can trigger flashbacks of your past memories with your ex and can send you in obsessions of stalking him/her on social media.
2) Don’t trash-talk your ex too much.
It may feel good to talk about your ex with your best friends, and hearing them bring down someone who made you feel sad, but your happiness need not be contingent on someone else’s pain.
3) Don’t consider to “stay friends’.
During this awkward breaking-up period, its very difficult to know whether you both can be friends or not. Generally, one person wants to be friends and other wants more. You gotta work this out before it can be a healthy relationship.
4) Moderate to intense physical exercise or work out does help.
Working out can be a great stress-buster. May be some intense sport like badminton, boxing, etc. It can really help you get rid of that negative tension and physical stress.
5) Spend more time outdoors.
Make a routine where you spend at least couple of hours under sun in fresh air. Create an ex- free environment by getting rid of stuff that reminds you of your ex. Donating them is one good way to do it.
6) Deal with your emotions and not avoid them.
It’s okay to feel ‘bad’. Do not try to distract yourself or escape from whatever you are feeling, but observe your feelings gently and without judgement. The more you observe, the better you’ll know that no emotion is static or permanent.
7) Finally, stop blaming yourself.
The problem wasn’t just you, but you two as a couple. It always takes two to breakup a relationship.
Spend your time with people who appreciates you. Feel confident, optimistic, and authentic, and remember that your success is the best revenge!
Traditionally, Yoga has been thought of as a form of physical exercise, and its practice is often limited to maintaining physical fitness. However, research has shown significant benefits in terms of psychological well being, especially anxiety disorders.
The therapeutic potential it has for psychological and medical disorders, or so called “yoga therapy”, has become highly popular in the general public.
Stress reduction, physical relaxation, positive effects on mood, improved cognitive functioning, are some well researched psychophysiological benefits of yoga. It has shown to have significant therapeutic benefit in psychiatric problems of anxiety and depression, which by no doubt are the two most prevalent conditions in psychiatry and general public.
An overall improvement in physical and mental well being is likely to cause an additional reduction in disease severity.
Yoga promotes the phenomenon of “self-realisation”, which not only is a key for one in being peaceful but also helps one get detached from the materialistic gratifications and frustrations that are the root cause of many psychiatric disorders.
Ways yoga can improve your mental health
With the practice of yoga you can gain more control over your body state, you become more relaxed and experience less anxiety. Yoga strengthen our parasympathetic nervous system over sympathetic system that promotes more relaxation and calmness.
It slows down the sympathetic nervous activity which is overly active in various anxiety disorders, which is also responsible for flight-or-fight reactions in our body.
Helps you become more confident
Through yoga, you understand yourself and become nonjudgemental. It helps resolve multiple conflicts within yourself. It promotes self-trust. Eventually, your relationship with your own self is what matters the most.
It is only if you are confident and in peace with yourself, have a balanced ego, that you can develop healthy relationships with others.
Benefits relationship with your partner
An inner peace helps instill compassion and unconditional love in a relationship with your partner. You become less reactive against your partner and more tolerant, which are important qualities of a healthy relationship.
With yoga you become more aware and conscious of your qualities and emotions. By being more mindful, you will have some sort of emotional release that can be psychologically soothing. It also relieves you of any physical tension in body.
With one in four people affected by mental health disorders like depression and anxiety, at some point in their lives, many people are finding yoga as an effective way to protect themselves from mental health conditions throughout the world.
Remember, yoga is not a complete solution to mental health concerns, but can be an adjunctive to primary psychiatric treatment.
Football benefits Mental health by giving an opportunity to have a time away from stresses and strains of life. Seeing your team do well, prompts a feeling of collective euphoria and joy.
Basking in reflected glory (BIRGing) not only lifts the mood of an individual but also of the entire community. BIRGing fans associate themselves to the success of team. Identification with the teams success enhances ones self esteem and instills a sense of accomplishment.
The perception of having such attributes makes one feel more confident and thus more desirable to others.
While watching football, fans shout, scream and chant, these ways often encourage ‘a cathartic release of tension’. It is also a socially acceptable way of venting out emotions of frustration and sadness. Young age group, in whom depression is very common and is at a highest risk for suicide, is also a dominant age group in football crowds across the country.
Watching a live game of football is like participating in group activity with people who share common values and interests. It not only provides a sense of belonging but also an identification and inclusion within a larger group.
For most fans, football is a part of their lives. However, for whom it becomes the main focus, on their team losing they can experience significant psychological problems of anxiety and depression.
Football provides a platform to gossip, communicate and exchange views, which are often known as protective factors in mental well-being. It also provides people a reason to meet up regularly, which helps them to maintain strong relationships. In particular, for those who are shy, are from different cultural and social backgrounds, football allows to connect with each other easily.
To some it can present an opportunity to re-enact their ritual of battle, which if taken too far can lead to serious violence. Such acts of violence differentiate a fan from ‘football hooligan’. An opportunity for competition, achieving ‘honor’ and inflicting shame on opponents is often a motivation behind such violent behaviour. Heavy alcohol drinking is often a key element in many violent offences by football fans.
Football as a sport can be even more beneficial to physical and mental health if taken to the field as an exercise.