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Fighting Depression and Anxiety in the Lockdown: The Doctor’s Way


(Introduction)

I am a doctor. Today I had an attack of anxiety and depression, as the lockdown in the country due to the Corona (Chinese Wuhan Virus) Pandemic crossed the second week. I work with other health care professionals in this lockdown, which keeps me going (myself sane) to some extent. This lockdown will bring out numerous latent cases of mental illness and I therefore urge you to pity yourself and visit a doctor if you feel any of the symptoms I will describe as I proceed on to reveal my life. As this is health related, and will be life-saving to many, I will therefore be extremely honest with the details of my life. Please do come forward and share your views. Don’t consider mental illness as a social stigma and ruin your life by not going to the doctor. I did that, and I know how much I ruined my own life.
I have suffered from massive depression and therefore I know what depression is exactly like. I have also been a patient of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and therefore I know exactly what being in the state of anxiety means. And see the irony, I am a doctor! I am writing my experiences as I face the struggles of the lockdown, all alone. I am in a city that is more than 2000 km away from my hometown. I don’t understand the native language of this state. I have no one around me who speaks my mother tongue! But I am happy. Yes, happy being left alone!
Many of you may be of the opinion that depression and anxiety can be overcome by will-power. Well, I will agree with you, for now. But I want to tell you a little story. When I was a kid, studying in a school in the mountains, I met a Sherpa. The Sherpa used to live high up in the mountains and he would come down to the town to get groceries. He said that before the water supply through pipes reached his village, the village folks used to drink water obtained from the roots of trees. Well I was fascinated with his stories. He said that he never fell ill in his life. He never had fever, and he wondered how others could have fever. He said that people did not have the will power to get over the fever! And that’s why they fell ill.
As we consider the Sherpa’s word, do we think his words were logical? Certainly not from our point of view. Because we know, no matter how much will power we have, it’s body’s natural defense mechanism to fight against the infection (foreign agents or abnormal cells) by raising the body temperature. It is no social stigma to be ill with pneumonia, typhoid, malaria, etc. and recover. Anyone can fall ill. Your will-power won’t be of much use, and you definitely need medicine to recover quickly and survive! So attaching social stigma to such diseases becomes meaningless.
But if we see through the Sherpa’s view point, such people who fall ill are considered to be feeble and weak! The Sherpa had access to very clean water and air, and with a sparse population in the village, getting a disease in his community was rare! While the people in the plains live a congested and unhealthy life. And getting a disease is not considered a sign of weakness but a breach in the defense mechanism of the human body. The body can recover with appropriate course of action.
As our knowledge accumulated we did away with the social stigma associated with diseases like tuberculosis and leprosy. Similarly the brain and the human mind can be affected by external and internal injury/stress causing mental illness. The injuries to the human mind may be through long period which may cause anxiety and depression or may be through a short quick duration like in Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The external manifestations of mental illness will be divergent and researchers are still trying to figure out the mechanism of injury to the mind which affects our conscious self. The mind when in a state of injury, will need treatment in form of medicines and behavioral therapy for healing, and no amount of will-power will resolve the illness. I can assure you Will-Power is not the solution to depression and anxiety! It needs real treatment! Once you are healing, Will-Power will be very effective in recovering quickly. But expecting Will-Power alone to cure depression and anxiety will be like seeking will-power alone to recover from malaria and typhoid.
Now let’s come to my problem today. I experienced extreme anxiety and restlessness today. There were several factors which helped to precipitate the disease (which I will eventually mention). When I am anxious I lose my appetite. If I eat or even try to eat, I feel nauseous. And I have to rush to the washroom quickly, for I have diarrhea-like symptoms. My body trembles, my hair rises, I perspire a lot and my body is cold to touch. I don’t know where the blood in my body has been drained to!
I went to the pharmacy by myself and self-prescribed medications – Rivotril (Clonazepam) – 0.5mg. 5 tablets was what it took to cure my anxiety. But, but…. All the 5 tablets are still lying on my table, for I didn’t eat any…
(To be continued tomorrow….)


Fighting Depression and Anxiety in the Lockdown: The Doctor’s Way Reviewed by Polymath on 1:40 am Rating: 5

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