Anyone who has experienced depression knows the constant fear you live with. That nagging emptiness, the lack of will to do even the most basic of tasks, the inability to get out of bed on most days. It’s unbelievably tiring to be constantly at odds with the want to be productive and the pull that says “not now” or “you can’t do it”. What’s even more infuriating is the helplessness you feel when trying to explain what you are experiencing, not just to others but even to yourself.
Depression is not something that can be gotten rid of by just smiling or thinking happy thoughts. It’s a lot more complex than that and requires professional help. But what do you do, when the so-called professionals themselves propagate false information about an already misunderstood illness such as this?
The Ministry of Health tweeted out an infographic detailing different ways to cope with depression:
“Depression is a state of low mood that affects a person’s thought, behaviour, feeling & state of well being,” they say. Some of the activities listed to keep oneself “boosted”, include thinking positive, staying clean, eating fruits, taking multi-vitamins, being creative etc.
Many on Twitter, including medical professionals with knowledge on this topic, have spoken out about the inefficiency of the controversial tweet:
1. They left out the most important thing that can help someone dealing with depression.
People with depression cant think positive. That's the definition of depression.
Telling them to do so, is like telling a person with cataract to open his eyes and see clearly.
Seeking help in depression, which is life saving, is not a part of this, why?
— Dhanvantari MindCare (@DMindcare) June 26, 2018
2. This poster is doing more harm than good.
If you're asking me to think positively when the organ that CONTROLS MY EVERY THOUGHT AND EMOTION is incapable of doing so, you obviously don't understand what depression is at all.
— Tanisha R (@captainamygdala) June 26, 2018
3. Depression. Is. Not. A. Low. Mood.
Depression is more than just a low mood, it's a serious condition that affects one's physical and mental health. It isn't a weakness and one can't simply "snap out" of it. Depression may require long-term treatment.
— Swaroop (@YoSwaroop) June 26, 2018
4. Not helping, Ministry Of Health.
Please have mental health professionals create posters. I understand you want to help but you're only misguiding people.
Mental health awareness is important and there are enough misconceptions as it is, without the MINISTRY OF HEALTH creating more of them.
– A Psychologist.
— Feminist Sita (@feministsita) June 26, 2018
MY GOD DELETE YOUR GODDAMNED ACCOUNT https://t.co/4JkYROTHcd
— ｐａｔｈｉｋｒｉｔ (@BucketheadCase) June 27, 2018
6. Sadly true.
India 🇮🇳 doesn't have the slightest of a clue about basic psychology… What a shame. https://t.co/pXRcavEHUz
— Psychology ۞ Pнιℓσѕσρнυѕ ۩ (@PsychologyDoc) June 28, 2018
7. One can’t just “think” their depression away. Trust me, many have tried.
A number of problems with this.
1. The "think positive" bit. The entire premise, or its largest part, is that you CAN'T think positive. Your neurotransmitters aren't balanced in the way they should ideally be, and simply "thinking them" into place is NOT a thing. https://t.co/lky2lU0vnK
— Anuradha Santhanam (@anumccartney) June 28, 2018
Go for a walk and travel when the hardest thing is to get out of the bed. Think positive when you can't even think properly. Eat fruits when you can hardly eat anything. Are you kidding me!? That's how you get rid of depression!?
Applause mofos!👏👏👏 https://t.co/lxf7qreUi3
— द_से_drishti😅🙈 (@DrishtiMathur) June 28, 2018
9. Depressed person: Why didn’t you just say so, earlier?
— Kiran Valake (@kiranv3091) June 28, 2018
10. We hope you’re listening, Ministry Of Health.
The Health Minister needs to rephrase this POSTER as for TACKLING STRESS . The poster for DEPRESSION needs to include seeking help from a Mental Health Professional @narendramodi @MoHFW_INDIA @ajitbhide @mindtemple3
— HARISH SHETTY (@DrHarish139) June 26, 2018
11. It is a matter of life and death.
Whoever wrote this has no idea what depression is. Where is the part where you go to the therapist or get meds? People are literally suicidal because of depression and you're asking them to "think positive "? You're putting more people in danger by spreading this message
— Rachita (@visualfumble) June 28, 2018
12. Stop spreading false information.
There are enough misconceptions about this already, please don't create any more and misguide people. Hire an expert whenever you want to create & post such posters. https://t.co/lYfwfy7oVO
— Akash A Kamble (@kambleakash0) June 28, 2018
13. Who even approves these?
This is exactly the frivolous approach one *shouldn’t* take to handling depression. Please consult some mental health professionals to draft out your creatives, well intentioned as they may be. For instance, add “seek help” should have topped this list but finds no mention. https://t.co/S8koCvx9yl
— Tushar Kanwar (@2shar) June 28, 2018
Things not to say to a depress patient https://t.co/Ebtz2E8C1k
— Sanghanayak Meshram (@drSanghanayak) June 26, 2018
15. Please seek professional help.
visit a doctor and get them to recommend treatment. It is just as dangerous to self diagnose depression and treat it, as it is self diagnosing cancer and treating it. Go see a professional. The rest of the advice here is fine. But, first go see a professional. https://t.co/0r8evaiodn
— Harini Calamur (@calamur) June 28, 2018
16. This thread pretty much sums up everything that’s wrong with this tweet.
good morning, @MoHFW_INDIA what is this sleepy, half-assed thing you have put out as a guide to coping with depression?
Let's look at the problems with it, shall we? A thread. (Hopefully not too long) https://t.co/yWvpZ4hgbl
— Sandhya Menon (@TheRestlessQuil) June 28, 2018
This is not the first time that the Ministry Of Health has missed the point. Just a couple of months back, they had tweeted a similar infographic chalking up food items like poultry and eggs as unhealthy food choices that make you fat. Though they had later deleted the tweet following a similar backlash, this behaviour shows a pattern. A pattern that does more harm than good.