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Stress induced depression – An Illness of epidemic proportion

Vijay Sampath

Author: Vijay Sampath

Date: Wed, 2017-04-12 16:46

 

  • The VUCA world is wreaking havoc on mental health
  • Change induced stress is appearing frequently
  • Depression is a major illness caused by change induced stress
  • Learning to cope with change will help people beat stress and depression

An epidemic of depression in the VUCA world?

During a recent visit to my dentist, I was waiting for my anesthetic to take effect and overheard her counseling a young man about his headaches.

She explained to me later that he was suffering from depression, was taking multiple anti-depressants, and essentially imagining his headaches were caused by physical issues.

This incident triggered some thoughts that had been bothering me for a while. I am increasingly coming across signs of depression, even among materially successful individuals.  One very successful business owner recently confessed to having been treated for depression, caused by work setbacks. I have recently met several friends or former colleagues whose traumatic career experiences have set off acute depression that seems to have permanently disabled their functioning.

Grappling with work, family and social pressure is taking a heavy toll on one’s mental well-being. Sudden transfers, job loss, new technology or process, change of leadership, M&A situations, economic meltdown, commuting pressure, social pressure, pollution, the uncertain futures for our children….the list goes on. 

The narcissistic parade of trivial successes and lux lifestyles on social media posts and pressure to perform in social media is adding to performance anxiety and loss of self-esteem.

At a global level, people have to cope with unexpected and unprecedented change, as nations and societies reinvent themselves. From the fallout of Brexit, the divisive US elections, the horrifying march of terrorism, the disappearance of balanced politics, to the growth of muscular nationalism and for us in India, the shock of demonetisation. The shrill and negative news of daily turbulence in our economic and social world, has everyone permanently rattled and on edge.

What connects all this is that change has become overwhelming and relentless, and the recovery time between change shocks is diminishing. In earlier times, as recent as the early 90’s, livelihoods were predictable and socioeconomic change infrequent and less disruptive. Today’s fast moving world, well defined by the term VUCA - Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous, is like a machine gun spitting out change bullets.

Learning about change to beat Depression

The critical thing I notice in personal interactions and on social media is that people are unaware, unprepared and untutored in understanding how to cope with change.

Maybe, if we knew what to expect in the change process, we would be unafraid to express ourselves naturally, and come out of the change situation faster and healthier. Wouldn’t this ensure our performance levels are sustained?

The best model I have come across, and one that some have probably been exposed to, is the Kubler-Ross model of coping with change. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross propounded this model in 1969, in her book, On Death and Dying. Her study focussed on the emotions of terminally ill patients at the University of Chicago’s medical school.

There cannot be a bigger change stress than that of impending death. The ability of the subject to cope with this ultimate and irrevocable change is beyond doubt “the” benchmark of human emotion. Not surprisingly, this study has been extrapolated by behavioral scientists and applied to many life and work situations.

Kubler-Ross’ model describes five stages of coping or adjustment, popularly expressed in a sine curve. These five stages are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. These are presented in the diagram below. (I have presented them in beige color and have taken the liberty of adding in blue, a few intermediate emotions that I observed in adapted studies)

Her model begins when a sudden change causes a sense of "Denial" in the subject. This is characterised by a refusal to accept the fact that the change has occurred and the denial of the consequences. From this point it’s a short step to "Anger", where the subject vents her negative emotions on some presumed causal factor or scapegoat. Often the anger is filled with self-pity: “Why me”? Anger is manifested both silently and vocally.

The subject then starts "Bargaining" with the situation- “Give me one chance to redeem myself”, “If I lived a few months longer I could settle my affairs in peace”. The bargaining is futile as the change event is irrevocable and only creates a sense of false optimism.

The reality and permanence of change sinks in finally and leads to depression. The mind becomes unbearably sad and hopeless. At work, the symptoms include lack of motivation or enthusiasm, low energy levels and distracted participation. In personal life, the symptoms include a withdrawal from social life and disinterest in any aspect of family life.

 This is the tipping point. Here is where intervention and treatment (if necessary) have to kick in. Delay in recovery makes this a low that is then hard to climb out of. And when depression becomes clinical, it can have devastating consequences including suicidal tendencies.

Luckily, most of us climb out of this abyss of depression pretty soon. We start seeing the need to move on when we "accept" the new situation. The subject is still fragile and will be doubtful of the changed state. In the Acceptance phase, he will move gingerly, not knowing what lies ahead. At this point, people have to be treated with consideration, kindness and leniency for experimentation and mistakes. Otherwise, the slide back to depression is very likely and easy. Given the right mental conditioning and empowering conditions, the acceptance phase can rapidly lead to renewal and growth.

Though it is popular to explain this model in sequence, Kubler-Ross clarified that she didn’t intend for the five stages to be linear or comprehensive. Instead, she said, these were a set of "commonly observed behaviors" and all of these need not occur in a standard sequence.

While this theory remains untested by substantial research, it continues to provide a fascinating yet simple input to plan for change or while experiencing it.

Leaders of organisations or families will find the Kubler-Ross model helpful in preparing for impending change. I have found it to be useful in counselling people, who have been in career trauma situations, arguably the corporate equivalent of a terminal illness.

Some people never bounce back from negative situations because they get trapped in the quicksand of denial and depression. Their failure to rebound is a collective failure of society, in failing to address the grave mental health challenges in today’s fluid work and life. Given the rapidly mutating conditions of the modern world, it is imperative for leaders to address this condition and “teach” people to learn how to cope with change and its expected consequences.

So when we go to sleep today, let us wonder how prepared we are for tomorrow’s change.

 

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Comments

This is a very insightful and timely article. Depression is rapidly becoming a global health crisis, and very few people outside academia are aware of this extremely serious situation. According to estimates from the World Health Organization, depression is expected to be at the second place in the ranking of Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALY, a measure of global disease burden) by 2020. It already is the leading causes of disability as measured by Years Lived with Disability (YLDs). But what may get lost in the numbers is the human experience of this disease. I remember reading an interesting description of depression from a writer who was herself coping with the condition. She described depression as ‘not a presence of negative emotions, but an absence of any emotions.’ This description makes me see how depression can a debilitating affliction. I can imagine that the condition must get severely exacerbated if patients do not seek or have access to medical attention and societal support. An important reason patients do not seek medical attention is the stigma associated with mental health conditions. It is important that public health infrastructure and healthcare funding be deployed to initiate public conversations and improve understanding of these conditions. On your point about family support for mental health patients, I’ll mention an interesting NPR podcast I heard few months back. The podcast featured interviews with residents of the town of Geel in Belgium. This town has pioneered a de-institutionalised method of care for mental health patients. The townspeople of Geel host mental health patients at their homes. The patients are treated as family guests with some special needs. The podcast highlights several success stories of this simple but evidently very effective arrangement. The main point of the program is to move mental health patients away from their families. The emotional involvement of close family members evidently impedes the recovery of these patients. On the other hand, institutionalization is often traumatic and may even be counterproductive. The emotionally distant, but still gentle and considerate care from strangers apparently dramatically improves health outcomes.

Dear Sir, The article was very informative about how acceptance of change can be explained using the Kubler-Ross change model. In this digital age, it is a norm for people to keep appearances and perform well online (in social media) as well as offline (in offices, schools and colleges). There is an intense competition on Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp to be the one who posts most updates. Tremendous amounts of peer pressure and competition for students and working professionals result in intense stress. Students are under high-pressure to perform in examinations and score well. Those students who cannot keep up, succumb to depression and in worst cases, commit suicides. In the recent past, there has been a growing trend of suicides by students. India has become one of the world’s highest rates for suicide rates for youth aged between 15 and 29. Similarly, working professionals also suffer from balancing both work and personal life. A lack of exercise and proper diet is leading to many lifestyle diseases. These further add to mental stress and anxiety and lead to depression. The major challenges in dealing with depression are the lack of awareness of depression and social stigma attached to accepting that one has depression. Most people do not even know they are depressed. As pointed out wonderfully in the article, this leads to denial and anger as per Kubler-Ross change model. Individuals, then accept they have no choice and seep into depression. Those who do seek help end up still suffering as there is a huge shortage about 87% of mental health care professionals in India. Lack of counselling centres in schools and colleges also do not help. We need to collectively work towards providing training and information seminars in schools, colleges and offices to tackle depression. There should be support systems and counselling sessions. Friends and family should provide unconditional support to the person undergoing depression. Beyond all this, the government should significantly increase the spending on mental health and create awareness about depression among the public.

I must say this is an insightful article and capable enough to generate a series of concern and thoughts about the threat of depression in this everchanging world. As rightly said, today’s world is VUCA world and each and every one is affected because of sudden changes. Author talked about the changes in corporate world and is taking a toll on personal front and pushing the person into state of depression which in some cases provoke suicidal tendencies. We can easily wider the horizon and see that not even working population but the old, kids and housewives are also equally susceptible to it. For example kids face similar dilemma when they see others with kids playing with new age gadgets, wearing branded clothes, and travelling to foreign destination for vacations. Similarly elderly people who are not able to adjust themselves with this changing world face challenge to maintain a relationships with their grandchildren and sometimes even with their children. The situation now has become critical and there is dire need to tackle the issue and help people understand that although it is good to stay in pace with the changes but is not the only thing which defines them. We have to help them understand that if they cannot accept the change it is perfectly okay to move on and the objective can be obtained by making them aware of the depression- its effects and causes- and providing adequate support, love and care.

Dear Sir, Thank you for shading some light on the very sensitive issue of depression. Today’s world is truly filled with uncertainty and individuals must deal with changes on a regular basis. Some changes are acceptable and can be dealt with but some are forced onto us and we are not prepared to deal with or sometimes even accept that the changes have occurred. I believe given the way our society functions accepting one is suffering from depression is the biggest challenge. Once the person accepts there is a situation he/she needs help one of biggest hurdle is passed. I think there is a dire need to spread awareness about how one can deal with stress and your article gives a good perspective you could provide more insights on how one can deal with changes that would be great.

Great Article Sir! I especially like the way you have described the number of people suffering from depression including those who are materially successful. In addition to this, I would also like to mention here that I loved the whole concept of “Beating Depression”. I think that I connected more when you mentioned about Kubler-Ross model of coping with change. I actually visualised and felt the 5 stages of coping – DABDA. It will be really unfair if I don’t appreciate the other 3 stages of emotions which you have added in the model. The flow of emotions, both felt and displayed, is beautifully narrated. You have beautifully captured the beginning of depression i.e. “Shock” i.e. any change for which we are not ready brings us a shock followed by denial and so on. As a result of any unexpected negative thing occurring in life brings different set of emotions and behaviour. There are many people in our society who are reluctant to accept that they were in depression. They think that people who are in depression are mentally ill and can never be fine and lead a normal life. In fact, due to this thinking, depressed people do not get help at the time when they need them the most and as a consequence, they end up doing things which are far more severe in nature when compared to the root reason of depression. Somehow, I can relate more with the article because of an incident in my life. After my father’s sudden death, I went into depression for almost 3 months. Although this phase wasn’t immediate to the incident but was after a year or so. The main reasons were the hard facts which I realised after his demise, the lessons for life which I learnt in a hard way. The gush of emotions such as denial, anger, false optimism, unbearable sadness, hopelessness led me to withdraw myself from social life. I led a life with almost no friends and mostly speaking to my mother for her anxiety removal. At the end of the day, I was full of emotions and with no clue of how to handle so many emotions and behavioural change. The situation changed and took a different way when I chose to speak openly with my husband (one of few friends in those days). I could cope up from this state and learn positive things only because of the continuous support of friends. I totally agree with what you wrote – if there is no acceptance, there is a greater chance to slide back to depression. I consider myself lucky enough to get supported and accepted. With this story, I would once again appreciate you for the noble thought of bringing this issue in front of common people and suggesting a way to handle the unexpected changes that occur in life. THANK YOU!!!!

Here come the winds of change, swift and strange, to pick your brain and sometimes to drive you insane. They say change is the only constant but seldom do they mention the price to be paid to maintain your significance with it and that’s what drives us crazy. We are in a sea of information and our visibility to what’s happening around is unlimited, thanks to social media and mobility. So the struggle truly boils down to what to absorb and what to leave, what’s significant and what’s not. And boy does it kick in your well suppressed insecurities! Now you are afraid that you will be redundant if you don’t change and at the same time you can’t cope with it. The adage- Too much of anything is bad – was never truer than it is today. Look around us. Actually, you don’t have to. Just take a look at that small hardware in your pocket- yes I am talking about your smart phone. It is a significant cause of our misery. The incessant desire to make your presence felt on social media is driving us insane. Suddenly you start comparing your life, achievements, and friends with others which causes serious stress and anxiety and can very well lead to depression. Apart from all this there are changes in politics, nations, cultures, work places, life styles, technology and the list goes on. Well, as the author mentioned that some of us are lucky who can shake of the dust of anxiety and stress induced by change but some of us are not that strong. So what do we do about them because we surely can’t stop the world from changing? We need to identify those souls who are suffering and be observant at our homes and workplaces. Because you never know if it is your kid or your friend or your colleague who needs a pat on the back and an assurance that things will be just fine.

Dear Sir, this article has been very insightful. Modern lifestyle, family and social pressure have affected one mental well-being. Due to tremendous pressure on performing well, there has been an exponential increase in the number of depression patients. Lately much more awareness has been started to deal with the depression treating it as a medical problem and helping to overcome it. Various new mode of dealing with such situations are being seen. The therapy dog is one such few initiatives, which I found very innovative. Sometimes people are no able to express their feeling to others, while they are comfortable expressing emotions in front of dogs, hugging them patting them is kind of stress-busting activity. Mumbai airport implemented this for the travellers and it has been a great success. More such kind of initiatives is needed. But the main hindrance is a lack of identifying the stage of depression, low motivation, lack of enthusiasm, sudden mood swings along with others may be some the starting signs. Early detection, better mentorship and acceptance in the society could possibly help in fighting with depression. Social awareness via various modes needs to be promoted to make people aware and provide a remedy to the problem.

Hello Sir, I was very enlightened by reading this well written and researched article. Definitely in today’s rapidly changing word, issues like depression, stress and anxiety have percolated into our lives and are wreaking havoc. From adolescents to grownups, any person anyone can find themselves under the grip of mental health problems. I was astounded to find out that more than 50 million people in India suffer from mental illness. 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men are persecuted by a major depressive episode at some point in their lives. Despite such alarming numbers very few actually reach out for help due to lack of awareness and the social stigma related to mental health problems. Some first steps have been taken up by the popular celebrities like Deepika Padukone and Honey Singh whose revelation about battling with depression aroused a lot of public attention towards the issue. However, we still need to sensitise people enough to allow those with mental illness to live their lives with respect and dignity. I agree with you that unexpected changes such as losing a loved one, job troubles or end of a relationship can lead to stress and then cause depression. However, after a close family member of mine experienced a major bout of depression I was surprised to know that this may not be the only reason. It is likely that there are possible genetic factors which might lead to a person being depressed irrespective of the situations, and a lot of research is being made in this regard. Depression can impair our lives and make it difficult to do everyday things, however, it is very much treatable. Without letting the fear of social stigma get the better of us, we need to provide full support and treatment to help our friends and family suffering from these illnesses. Being Proactive and seeking professional help early on will really expedite the recovery. I believe it is time we change our attitude towards mental health issues.

Thank you ,to every one who took the time to give insightful feedback and commentary on the subject ,including sharing painful personal memories. Let us recognize these symptoms and share. I am appending below a checklist from Mayo Clinic which is helpful for anyone who wants to learn more from a practical p.o.v http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/expert-answers/clinical-depression/faq-20057770 For clinical depression, you must have five or more of the following symptoms over a two-week period, most of the day, nearly every day. At least one of the symptoms must be either a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure. Signs and symptoms may include: Depressed mood, such as feeling sad, empty or tearful (in children and teens, depressed mood can appear as constant irritability) Significantly reduced interest or feeling no pleasure in all or most activities Significant weight loss when not dieting, weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite (in children, failure to gain weight as expected) Insomnia or increased desire to sleep Either restlessness or slowed behavior that can be observed by others Fatigue or loss of energy Feelings of worthlessness, or excessive or inappropriate guilt Trouble making decisions, or trouble thinking or concentrating Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, or a suicide attempt Your symptoms must be severe enough to cause noticeable problems in relationships with others or in day-to-day activities, such as work, school or social activities. Symptoms may be based on your own feelings or on the observations of someone else. Clinical depression can affect people of any age, including children. However, clinical depression symptoms, even if severe, usually improve with psychological counseling, antidepressant medications or a combination of the two.

This is a very import topic which needs attention. Educating the communities on Stress induced depression will be important in times to come. World health organization reports that over 300 million people suffer from depression. It is also said that depression is major cause of disabilities & diseases. I have witnessed stress induced depression very closely, when a friend of mine was going through bad marriage. I could very well map the behavior I noticed with the “Kubler- Ross change curve”. The stage between denial & Anger was the most difficult time for every one of us, who were closely associated. We could see her venting hate on every possible person or object. The stage between bargaining & depression was once again difficult. The energy that was put to save the relation was tremendous denying reality, like a dying person struggling to live a moment longer. Finally when she gave up, she fell into a state of depression even attempting suicide. Probably the worst stag of stress & can lead to suicides. One of the most common and only cause of suicides in the recent times.

Indeed very insightful article, which bring reality of today’s life crisis on surface. In fact, I strongly believe that life has become race from childhood itself. Starting from childhood, the expectation from parents that “My child should be master of all “cause the stress form childhood itself &the child cannot live his childhood life & become a part of rat race. There are instances registered, where child faces the stress & falls in to depression, which is ignored or not noticed. Another example kids face similar dilemma when they see others with kids playing with new age gadgets, wearing branded clothes, and travelling to foreign destination for vacations. In the young age (25 to 35), I feel there is dual pressure causes tremendous stress. One Social & Professional. Social stress is mainly for status in the society and better family life style. This is linked with again professional life, since a person wants to become successful at young age & becomes too ambitious. He takes some times unnecessary risks & fall into financial stress. In professional life – It is all about become successful person & attaining leadership position too early (Highly ambitious person). I fully agree with author regarding his views about VUCA world. Any unexpected change brings Volatility, Uncertainty, and Complexity & Ambiguity in the life of human being. So either person falls in to trap of VUCA world, if he / she takes uncalculated risk in the professional life or he/ she delay the change, which also cause a different kind of stress & sometimes loose the opportunity. At this moment, I would like to share my personal experience regarding delaying the change in my professional life mainly because of different priorities of family & experienced the all five stages of Kubler-Ross’ model, as described in the blog. Fortunately, with help of mentor & timely counselling, I could come out from the phase quickly. I accepted the change for attaining higher position and at the moment I am enjoying last stage “moving on” Someone may say “Depression is threat to society “ My question is can we afford to be remain mediocre in this competitive age? Answer is No as per my view. However there are ways & means to manage the stress through Yoga / Pranayama & other therapy. The need is to create awareness regarding depression is a disease. Since many people do not accept this & fall in to irreversible situation in life. My brother is doctor & practice the psychotherapy & I have learned so many such instances through him. Timely action helps avoid such situation at any age in life & hep attaining the last stage of Kubler- Ross model. This is what our leaders need to learn and develop – this is not intellectual (IQ), & emotional (EQ) and it is not task oriented, it is often people oriented. To come over this, we need leaders with high levels of self-actualization. I would appreciate you for the noble thought of bringing this issue in front of common people and guiding a way to handle the unexpected changes that occur in life. THANK YOU!!!!

Today’s world continuously changing, it’s continuously moving and our generation need to accept this change and move accordingly. We have self-set expectations for our family, kids, friends & business. Sometimes we try hard to achieve those set goals but not necessary we will meet those goals every time in life. This leads to stress in our life which can be for short period of time, but in few cases it may prolong for longer span which could lead to depression in our life. Depression I believe is mental blockage which not only reduces your working efficiency but also reduces motivation, enthusiasm and you are always low on energy. It’s like a morass, more you get deep into more it is difficult to come out of. Not necessary that every time common man see symptoms of stress and depression, this can be witnessed in successful people’s life as well. Best examples here could be celebrities like Rajesh Khanna or Vinod Khanna who indeed were successful in their career but at later stage went into depression. Insecurity can be a cause in such cases, whether it is maintaining name, fame and stardom status or insecurity on family or personal front. Surprisingly one out of every two employees in corporate India shows signs of anxiety and depression. Prolonged ongoing stress due to personal and work contexts was identified as trigger for mental illness. One of study shown that 42.5% employees shows signs of stress and depression because of demanding schedules, high-stress levels, and performance-linked perquisites in private sectors. So this supports the statement of VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) which leads to stress and depression. What is important is learning to cope up with change which can help beating stress and depression. That’s what Kubler –Ross change curve suggests, faster you respond to change, faster you moves on beating depressions in life. Important is to make people aware of this situation and its possible consequences and help them know how to cope up with it.

Depression: Epidemic of Depression Thank You Professor Sampath for discussing the burning issue of 21st century, depression. The article is clinical in content and scientific. Major stress is given on ‘change’ which is constant but difficult to cope up the change if it is frequent. VUCA is now a part of life in 21st century across geography, race, ethnicity, age, gender. The Kubler-Ross’ model nicely describes five stages of coping or adjustment; the 5 stages are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. The model is useful in nature to understand the changes in internal behaviour to external changes. Depression is a depiction of individual’s incapability to deal with changes. Views: There are a number of under-examined fault lines running through the medical literature on depression, and current clinical practice. This chiefly stems from a too exclusively biomedical focus, neglecting the social construction of the human mind. For a start, the term `depression' tends to be used without qualification, as if it was settled that we were always referring to a free-standing biologically-based disorder. There is also an important international dimension. `Depression' is said to contribute 12% of the total burden of nonfatal global disease. The World Health Organization describes it as an epidemic that within two decades will be second only to cardiovascular disease in terms of global disease burden. Many people are prescribed antidepressant drugs having many side effects without clear diagnosis of depression. Depression is a disease in which changes takes place at neurotransmitter level. The stress has increased substantially at work and social front and it requires cumulative efforts to deal with it. The Indian values like prayer, yoga, healthy food habits, and social engagement are the best alternative to deal with depression even including expert counselling. The suicidal rate has increased substantially all across the ages including teenagers because of over expectation and performance laid distress. We need to deal with depression multidimensional without undermining the lack of acute symptoms.

When I saw this blocg and the title Stress and Depression, immediately Jagjit Singh's famous song pop ups in my mind. Song says "Mujhko lota de bachpan ka sawan, woh kagaz ki kashti wo barish ka pani".This movie was released in year1987, almost 30 years back, though at that time depression was not that much famous or popular but this songs says everything about stress and depression. All human being once in their life faced the problem of stress as well as Depression. There is no area of life that does not suffer when stress and depression is present.Marriage, friendship, finances, parenting, careers these are the few examples but almost every aspect of daily living is compromised by this disease. According to the WHO (World Health Organization) depression is the most common illness worldwide and the leading cause of disability. They estimate that 350 million people are affected by depression , globally. What this means to us ? This means we are in a very dangerous situation and need to work very quickly to get rid of these sickness. As per the medical science if people are in happy mood then this can help them to fight with depression. Work pressure, late night working, unbalance diet and life style is the major reason for stress and depression. To cope up with this illness we must need to follow up the old ancient Indian life style. If we do the below things on daily basis then surely we can manage the stress and depression very easily. Below are the few things which are very critical and everyone must need to include these things in their daily life. 1. Take a good and healthy sleep - This will help us to relax our body , mind and soul 2. Do daily physical exercise at least for one hour - this will help to release all negative energy from our body 3. Balance the work and life , give complete rest whenever your body and mind needs it. 3. Meditation -This will also help to reduce the stress from mind as well as from body.

Yes, very right – this is a timely article. Stress induced depression has taken an epidemic proportion. The advertisements run on prime time television channel to help one coming out of depression is a testimony to the deep rooted evil. Stress – it’s wide spread. Starting from school to perform well, to become number one in every endeavor is taking its toll on the young minds. The pressure from the family, the obvious competition with the friends making one’s life lonely day by day. Whether, the young star is capable of taking that stress is a matter not to be ignored. The family is the biggest strength in this hour but is they there? In many circumstances the answer is a big NO. We start comparing our child with the neighbourhood good boy or the close family friend’s daughter who has performed exemplarily well in all spheres including co-curricular. There is this fare share of pressure from the social media where everything seems possible. Come to work life environment in the corporate world – this is far murkier than one can imagine. I have this friend who in a very short career became team lead in one of India’s largest software farm. His works were appreciated and there was no reason to feel depressed. But there was! If you are so good then why are you continuing with this company? You try to move on to company X, can you do it? That’s stress from peer who is probably envy at his success or may be eying the position he is in. He did not have anyone to share his feelings, parents were away and he was yet to have his own family as well. The end result - lot of meditation, feeling demotivated to work purely due to peer pressure, resulting in irregularity at workplace and one fine day he had to leave his job. Now, he is leading the life of a vagabond, a promising career is cut short. This is not one example, there will be plenty. How to come out of this? At young age the parents, the teachers should look for sudden behavioral change, the company he or she keeps or there is no one at all. At work life one should have at least a few friends if not from within the organization may be from others, a childhood one, a course mate. Here, social media can have a positive impact, one should look for friends with similar ideology and thoughts where one can share their common hobby and pursue it. The fight has to come from within, the fight not to fall in any trap, stay focused, have someone to share your feelings.

I remember once waking up to read a news article, wherein a very successful senior official of a company passed away while doing a work-out in the morning. Later it was revealed that he was working on lot of stress and had not slept properly for many days at stretch. This is what life is in many parts of the world where corporate life has become so hectic that health takes a back seat. Stress is something that we are used to taking from our school days. Performance related, peer pressure, social pressure we have seen it all. Ability to handle success and failure is key to survival. Today we see increase in number of suicides due to failure in 10th and 12th grades. We have seen many cases of suicides/deaths of many Hollywood stars/singers due to drug overdose. Stardom comes with lot of pressure from fans and media, and the easy way out thought is drugs and anti-depressants, over dependence on both can be fatal. In today’s time and age amount of travel involved leads to spending most of the time away from our families and family in my opinion is the biggest stress reliever. A very pertinent point raised in this article is about the Change. I too believe in the saying that Change is only constant in life. Today in our corporate life change happens at a regular interval. Change of job, location, boss all can create disruption in our life. The better we handle it is easier for us to survive in the competitive world. Change of president in USA affects our job in India is a classic example of stress related to Change. Change is also very aptly explained in Kubler - Ross Change Curve. It talks of Denial, Bargaining, Anger, Depression, and Acceptance. As a human tendency, we first refuse to accept the change and stay in Denial mode, the stages move forward and the earlier we are able to come in to acceptance mode, which we generally do, better for us. In your article you have summed up today’s global and fast moving world being defined as VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous). I always know this is as VUCCA where another “C” stands for Chaotic. I would like to end with a quote by Robin Sharma “Change is hard at First, Messy in the middle and Gorgeous at the end”

An informative article on stress, depression and related concerns in today’s dynamic and uncertain world OR as it is termed – VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous). The article starts with issues that lead to stress and depression at personal level, moves on to the ill effects of unprecedented changes at Global level and then delves deeper in to the “Kubler-Ross change curve model” – explaining various stages of depression. It often takes a while for us to adjust to a new house, to feel home in a new country or to make friends in a classroom full of strangers. These are minor changes in life and most of the times we plan and prepare ahead of time. Come think of it, what if there was a bigger, unexpected, irrevocable rather unwanted change. Under such circumstances our world topples on both personal and professional fronts. But, our preparedness and reaction to such inevitable changes define our ability to avoid or beat depression and overcome the situation faster. Easier said than done, isn’t it? Kubler and Ross model so aptly describes 5 stages of coping with changes. It is not necessary that all the stages are applicable to everyone in the same format. What is important is creating awareness among the people. Awareness of seeking medical help for mental wellbeing when needed, so that one can bounce back stronger than the earlier version of oneself. The model can also be applied by leadership of organizations while bringing in impending changes in to organizations/teams and teach people on coping with the changes. Apart from what the author has described, I would also like to add that we as parents should make an informed attempt to bring up emotionally strong next generation. We need to ensure that the future generation does not succumb to the pressure of growing and unreasonable demands of social media. Create awareness among the younger generation on what is important and what is not and when in trouble it is OK or rather necessary to talk to people and seek help and that there is always a next chance after every failure.

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