Deepika Padukone opens up about her experiences with depression

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14aug_DeepikaPhotoshoot06Bollywood superstar Deepika Padukone has recently opened up about her personal battle with anxiety and depression. In an interview with The Hindustani Times, the 29-year-old actress said that she started experiencing depression at the beginning of last year, just after she had established herself as one of Bollywood’s most successful stars. “I thought it was stress, so I tried to distract myself by focusing on work, and surrounding myself with people, which helped for a while,” said Deepika. “But the nagging feeling didn’t go away. My breath was shallow, I suffered from lack of concentration and I broke down often.”

Deepika said how her mother’s worry about her condition forced her to get in touch with a psychologist to understand the root cause of the problem. “Over a period of time, it got worse. When my parents visited, I would put up a brave front because they were worried about me living alone and working long hours. Then, once, while talking to my mother (Ujjala Padukone), I broke down. She realised the problem, and got in touch with a psychologist friend, Anna Chandy, to get to the root of the cause. Every morning, it was a struggle to wake up, and shoot for Happy New Year’s climax. Finally, I had a word with Anna aunty. She flew to Mumbai from Bengaluru, and I talked my heart out to her. She concluded that I was suffering from anxiety and depression.”

Deepika also stated that her friend’s recent death in relation to anxiety and depression encouraged her to go public with her personal battle with the mental disorder. “There were days when I would feel okay, but at times, within a day, there was a roller-coaster of feelings. Finally, I accepted my condition. The counselling helped, but only to an extent. Then, I took medication, and today I am much better. Most of HNY was shot through this phase. But before starting my next with Shoojit Sircar, I took a two-month break to recover mentally and physically. I spent time with my family in Bengaluru and was soon better. But, when I returned to Mumbai, I heard about a friend committing suicide due to anxiety and depression. It was a huge blow. My personal experience as well as my friend’s death urged me to take up this issue, which isn’t usually talked about. There is shame and stigma attached to talking about depression. In fact, one in every four people suffers from anxiety and depression.”

Deepika mentioned that her current stardom and success has led her friends to question why she would even be suffering from depression in the first place. “The most common reaction is, ‘How can you be depressed? You have everything going for you. You are the supposed number one heroine and have a plush home, car, movies… What else do you want?’ It’s not about what you have or don’t have. People talk about physical fitness, but mental health is equally important. I see people suffering, and their families feel a sense of shame about it, which doesn’t help. One needs support and understanding. I am now working on an initiative to create awareness about anxiety and depression, and help people. My team is working with me to formulate a plan, which will be unveiled soon.”

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