• There is huge stigma surrounding mental health in India.
  • Depression can affect anybody without any warning.
  • The most important thing is to seek professional help.

In order to break the stigma surrounding mental health, actress Deepika Padukone has decided to speak publicly about the clinical depression and anxiety she faced in spite of a happy home life and an extremely successful professional career.

She told her story at Davos, where she also received the Crystal Award for her work to raise awareness of mental health issues in India.

This is how she described her illness.

"What I was experiencing was this hollow, empty feeling in my stomach. I would break into a sweat. I would suddenly get into these panic phases where I felt I needed to get out and gasp for breath. And I would just cry - out of nowhere, break down and cry."

Deepika was able to seek professional help from a psychiatrist.

"The toughest part in the journey for me was not understanding what I was feeling or experiencing. Not being able to explain to people what it was. The diagnosis itself felt like a massive relief."

Deepika Padukone on stigma around seeking help for mental health

And she talked about the stigma surrounding mental health in India. .

"Parents don’t want to take their children to counsellors or psychiatric treatment because they are concerned what other family members may think, concerned about what society may think. I’ve come across situations where people who are experiencing mental illnesses want to seek help but the family won’t allow them to do that."

She also spoke about how to protect against the depression returning.

"I have to take care of myself on a daily basis, what I eat, how much I sleep, exercise, mindfulness - to ensure I don’t go back to that dark space."

And she conveyed a message of hope to anyone who may be suffering in the same way she did.

"There were days I wanted to give up, but hope everyday would push me to the next day. I kept saying, this is going to pass. So there is hope."