Kruti Mehta, 18, is a talented, ambitious and intelligent girl from Ahmedabad. After graduating from high school, she had moved to Bangalore to pursue an undergraduate course in psychology and literature. This had been her first time living away from her single mother, who had legally separated from her father two years ago.
Kruti had been an active witness to her parents' marital discord since her childhood. "I hate my father. A father is supposed to love and protect you, but my father is an indifferent and heartless man who I never want to see again," an evidently hurt Kruti would say, when asked about her father.
Kruti had faced a number of emotional upheavals in her family, but none of this mattered to her when she started a new and exciting life in Bangalore. "In the beginning it felt like I had it all. I was finally at a place in my life where I could be happy. I made quite a lot of friends in the very first week of college. But this happiness didn't last long," recalls Kruti. Her roommate and new friends would insist that she go along to the parties they attended, but Kruti was insecure about the way she looked, and wasn't keen on socializing. Her mother says that Kruti had always been a little overweight but that never really bothered her until Kruti went to college. "She started eating more than she used to and binged on sweets. She also started bunking lectures because she slept until lunchtime," says her roommate, Anu.
Kruti recalls having dealt with worse problems than her weight issues, but weight was the only thing she thought about constantly, day in and day out. "I had become obsessed with my looks and weight. I loved going out with friends but I stopped because I was convinced that I was ugly, or that boys would never look at me or think of me romantically. I believed that I was unlovable and that I didn't deserve anyone's love. I felt I wasn't good enough for anything or anyone. Nothing would make me happy and I felt like I was down in the dumps. I just wasn't able to shake off the feeling and it felt like being stuck in an endless pit of misery. I lost interest in psychology, my dream career, and scored extremely poor marks in the semester exams because I just couldn't concentrate," says Kruti. She also recounts how she would often break down and cry for no specific reason. She used to think that she was weak and that everything was out of her control. "Kruti used to call me every other day and would always sound low and tired. I remember how she would start to cry out of the blue, and how she complained of extreme headaches and back pain," says her mother.
It was when Kruti told Anu about how she was tired of her life, and that she didn't find her 'dead, empty, monotonous life' worth living, that Anu sensed trouble and informed Kruti's mother about her state of mind.
"My mom took me to a clinical psychologist and that is when I was diagnosed with clinical depression," says Kruti. The psychologist then explained to Kruti that depression is a common yet serious mental health issue and that it is not a sign of weakness.
Depression is a treatable and a manageable mood disorder. Milder cases of depression are treated with psychotherapy alone, but in relatively severe cases, where patients report loss of appetite and sleep, or have extremely negative or suicidal thoughts, an effective combination of medication and psychotherapy is used.
Feeling sad and empty most of the time, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, feeling worthless and guilty, crying spells, sleeplessness/sleepiness, binge eating, loss of appetite and suicidal ideation are some of the common symptoms of depression. When this overwhelming sadness starts to affect your relationships and your professional functioning, it might be the time to consult an expert.
Depression can happen to the most determined of us too. Admitting that something's wrong and wanting to get better shows that you are strong and you still have a lot of fight left in you. If you find yourself dealing with a mental health issue, do discuss it with a close friend or family member and also seek an appointment with a mental health expert
This narrative has been created with the help of mental health experts by taking into consideration symptoms and accounts from a cross-section of patients. The story is not a case study of any one particular person but is meant to be representative of a person suffering from the disorder mentioned.