After exam stress, heartbreak triggers the maximum number of suicides in India, says psychiatrist Shyam Bhat, who shot to fame after Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone opened up about her struggle with depression in a TV interview over a year ago.
“More than 1.35 lakh people commit suicide in India every year and as many as 20,000 of them end their life because of heartbreak,” says Bhat, who has written a new book that looks at what happens to the human mind and body when faced with the extremely traumatic process.
The New Zealand-born MBBS doctor, who set up a mental health practice in Bengaluru after stints in the UK and the US, says he took up the “frivolous” topic like love and heartbreak as a subject for his book because nobody expected a doctor to talk about it in a non-academic way.
Earlier this year he teamed up with Padukone to establish the Live Love Laugh Foundation, a comprehensive resource platform on depression, during whose launch a guest spoke about heartbreak, which Bhat says, rang a bell.
“I found out that I was actually going around colleges and organisations and realised that heartbreak was something that only agony aunts were talking about and yet it causes deaths, and causes clinical depression in hundreds and thousands of people,” he says.
Coupled with his own experience of love and loss in his 20s, he attempts to write about the strange nature of an experience that even the most rational mind cannot seem to change.
His book ‘How to Heal Your Broken Heart: A Psychiatrist’s Guide to Dealing With Heartbreak,’ available on the Juggernaut app attempts to give insights to help one “become happier, stronger and more complete and in the future helps to love again and have a better relationship.”
About 40% of Indians, says the doctor, carry a variant of the serotonin transporter gene, which makes them vulnerable to depression. “That means that 40% of our country could suffer from depression if they experience significant emotional stress such as heartbreak,” Bhat writes.
Also, he says that men and women treat heartbreak differently.
“Although there isn’t enough data yet to make a conclusive observation but based on my own observations men are more susceptible to the effects heartbreak and thus depression than women.”
A general lack of affiliative tendencies in men makes them more prone to depression due to heartbreak.
“A breakup is probably worse for men because they not have affiliative tendencies. Women seek support from friends but many men get isolated and deal with heartbreak on their own. They alienate more people due to their anger, which is just a symptom of sadness,” says Bhat.
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