As per a Survey published a few weeks back by the Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), out of every 10 Indian professionals surveyed across the metropolitan cities, 4 suffered from general anxiety disorder or depression. If the results of the survey are to be extrapolated, a huge number of Indian workers put on a smiling mask to hide their pain as they head to work each day.

According to a report published in The Economic Times, “A high 46% of the workforce in organisations in India suffers from some or the other form of stress, as per latest data from Optum, a top provider of employee assistance programmes to corporates. Optum’s study had a sample size of 200,000 employees (over 30 large employers) who took an online Health Risk Assessment during the first quarter of 2016”

Whereas The Hindu was quoted saying as, “In a study involving over 6,000 corporate employees in multiple cities, one in every two employees showed signs of depression. The findings of the study, titled ‘Mental health status of corporate employees’, were released at a seminar on Wednesday. They indicated that women are more prone to depression than men. While 80 percent of the respondents exhibited symptoms of anxiety, 55 percent had symptoms of depression and faced the problem for over a year before seeking professional help.

In the list of the top diseases that affect corporate executives, depression (42%) ranks at the top, followed by obesity (23%), high blood pressure (9%) and diabetes (8%). The top 3 cities where professionals were the most prone to depression were Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai, in that order.

Roughly half the respondents admitted to feeling exhausted too often, over a quarter said that headaches were a common feature of their working lives.

What’s more worrying is the age distribution of the respondents. Over half (55% to be precise) were under the age of 30 and a quarter of them were between age slab of 30 and 40 years.

Most of the professional job aspirants from India are under 30 years. They are ambitious and competitive. They want the best from their careers in their most productive years. If that describes you too, then keep in mind the intangible price that you may need to pay for the success you are chasing. You don’t need to take any radical decision to quit the corporate world. But do listen to what your body is trying to tell you. Slow down if you need to.

Employees today put work ahead of themselves and that is unhealthy, says Mumbai-based psychiatrist Dr. Harish Shetty. “These may also be signs of burnout, which are similar to signs of depression. Employees of private companies sleep less, eat at odd hours, are stressed due to their job and are not secured of their future. We must be very careful about this. In the 2-3 years that employees want to push themselves harder for success, they tend to destroy themselves,” says Dr. Shetty.

Symptoms that you are one of them

There’s a difference between being occasionally feeling low, and chronic depression. But for most, it’s difficult to differentiate between the symptoms. The earlier you opt out, the easier it would be to control the damage.

The symptoms of clinical depression include:

  • Feeling angry and irritable.
  • Feeling that everyone gets on your nerves for minor reasons.
  • Feelings of guilt and blaming yourself for your perceived failure
  • Memory and concentration issues, lack of focus
  • Lack of interest in day-to-day activities, even pleasurable activities like hobbies, sex, sports, music seem uninteresting
  • Change in the appetite, not feeling hungry or the reverse, binge-eating accompanied with a sudden change in body weight
  • Feeling there’s no hope, and nobody to help
  • Change in the sleep pattern, insomnia (lack of sleep) or the reverse (over-sleeping)
  • Chronic exhaustion, always feeling drained of energy.
  • Body aches and pains that won’t go away
  • Not feeling that your life is worthwhile, including any reckless behaviour (speeding, binge drinking, overdosing on drugs)

While some of these may be part and parcel of our stressful daily lives, if you are even remotely thinking of that last point, please reach out immediately to someone (a relative, friend or doctor) who can help.

Root causes of Depression

While the symptoms of depression are important to keep track of, it is equally important to know what might be triggering them.

Depression can be caused due to many reasons, some of them includes:

  • Employment issues (not having a job, being in the wrong job, having a wrong boss
  • Life experiences (traumatic events in childhood or at Job);
    Financial ill health
  • Substance abuse (drugs, alcohol)
  • Medical history of depression in the family
  • Chronic health problems
  • Relationship issues (marriage, love affair)
  • Isolation and lack of social support

Treatment of Depression

Rather than trying to fight a losing battle as a one-man army, it helps to get support from your near and dear ones. Here are some depression treatments that can help eradicate the milder forms:

  • Change to a healthier lifestyle. Regular exercise has been known to be quite effective in releasing endorphins and other chemicals that can have a positive impact on the mood
  • Regular sleep, eating nutritious food and reducing stress levels can also be beneficial
  • Initiating a hobby or simply by opening up to a more socially active life can also help
  • Being stuck in an incompatible job can be addressed with career counseling or switching your job

However, the other causes those aren’t as simple to address and need medical intervention. For clinical depression, simple ideas and solutions may not work. Medicines can help. But that doesn’t mean you starting popping anti-depressants indiscriminately and become addicted to them. Your doctor would be in a better position to evaluate your condition and suggest an action plan.