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As we observe World Health Mental Day 2021 today, actress Shruti Haasan has a request for all the celebrities who open up about their personal battles. Let the dialogue and conversation around depression or anxiety not be limited to just talking about it on World Mental Health Day alone. In a recent interview with Gulf News, Haasan had a bone to pick with public figures who speak about mental health only when it’s a significant day in an annual calendar. It’s a disservice to all those who struggle with grave mental health issues daily believes the talent who suffers from anxiety. “It can’t be a trump card that you use once a year. You have to keep talking about mental health. Recovery of any kind is about constantly addressing it and being aware of it. I don’t agree with people who do it for a season or on Mental Health Awareness Day alone,” said Haasan in an exclusive interview with Gulf News over Zoom last July.
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Top Bollywood producer, director, and chat show host Karan Johar opened up about his battle with depression and anxiety for more than a year. In a televised interview, he said he took anti-anxiety medications to get it all under control. The ‘Koffee with Karan’ host is also a big believer in taking therapy along with medications. He believes that therapy played a big role in feeling better.
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In August this year, actress and TV host Shibani Dandekar opened up about her battle with depression in a bid to de-stigmatise mental health. Dandekar, who is currently dating Bollywood actor Farhan Akhtar, spoke about how therapy has helped her tremendously. “I’ve suffered from depression in the past. I work with a therapist twice a month. I don’t think there is anything wrong with it. Even though I love my life and I’m happy there are things that I need to work through a therapist with and I think that that’s you know totally acceptable and it’s okay,” Dandekar told entertainment portal Bollywood Bubble. “And after you work with a therapist a lot of your sentences start with what my therapist says…I think that’s the way you should just move on in life it’s important to really make this something that people do not have to hide,” she continued.
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Ankita Lokhande has frequently spoken about her battle with depression after her break-up with late actor Sushant Singh Rajput. In a fan interaction recently, she spoke about how her family helped her get through those dark phases in her life. She spoke about how the end of a romantic partnership had made her question her reason for living. "I have been through depression myself. Mein bhi bahot buri haalat mein thi, mujhe bhi takleef hui thi, mujhe bhi bahot rona aaya tha [I was in a bad shape, I was in a lot of pain and used to cry a lot]. But I had only my family, friends and a few fans who have been with me right from the start. I really respect that."
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Sushant Singh Rajput: The 'Kedarnath' star was found dead in his home a year ago. He reportedly suffered from bipolar disorder, anxiety and depression. His death was yet another reminder that we need to talk about mental health issues without judgement and stigma.
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Honey Singh: This rapper, who is known for brash lyrics and controversy, suffers from bipolar disorder. He has been candid about his struggles in interviews, admitting that fame and his mental issues had him turning to alcohol to self-medicate in the early 2000s. “It was a dark phase, and I don’t think there’s any point in hiding it. That’s my message to all my brothers and sisters out there; don’t hide this. People used to ask me where I was for a couple of years. And I felt it was important to tell my fans about myself — I was unwell, now I’m better”, he said in an interview with India.com.
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Deepika Padukone: This bankable Bollywood A-lister is fast becoming de-facto Bollywood’s face of mental health awareness. She famously has over time spoken out about her battle with depression and has gone so far as to establish a centre to help others grappling with similar issues.
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Manisha Koirala: She is not only a cancer survivor, she is also someone who’s dealt with acute clinical depression. Her tumultuous relationship with her ex-husband lead her down a dark path. The ‘Maska’ actress said in an interview with parentcircle.com earlier this year that if you are feeling similarly low, “first and foremost, seek help. It could be professional or friendly advice or, help from someone you can open up to. Do not hesitate. Second, never think that you are alone. For, there is always someone willing to hear you out.”
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Parveen Babi: Babi was one of the shining stars of yesteryear Bollywood, had paranoid schizophrenia and a severe case of depression. She died at age 55, having suffured multiple organ failure.
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Jiah Khan: She was one of the casualties of depression. As her career stalled and her rocky relationship got rockier, Khan took the drastic decision to kill herself.
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Illean D'Cruz: Fame comes with a magnifying glass – everything you do is up for scrutiny and condemnation. Ileana D'Cruz, who has worked in both Bollywood and Tollywood movie industries, has struggled with both Body Dysmorphic Disorder and depression, which at one point made her feel suicidal. The ‘Baadshaho’ actress has been open about her issues and is all about raising awareness so others can be in a better place too.
Image Credit: IANS
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Shaheen Bhatt: Author of ‘I’ve Never Been (Un)Happier’ has dealt with a crippling sort of depression for most of her life. The sister of actor Alia Bhatt explained an episode in an Instagram post:, “One minute everything's fine and the next it's like someone turned the light off inside my head. I go quiet and it's difficult to get out of bed. Like it always does the world around me loses focus and I struggle to make sense of it. Sometimes these bouts last an hour - sometimes they last days....”
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Anushka Sharma. It may be tough to think of someone who looks so in control of themselves as distressed. But it is possible. Mum-to-be Sharma explained her battle with anxiety a few years ago, tweeting: “I have anxiety. And I’m treating my anxiety. I’m on medication for my anxiety. Why am I saying this? Because it’s a completely normal thing. It’s a biological problem. In my family, there have been cases of depression. More and more people should talk openly about it. There is nothing shameful about it or something to hide. If you had a constant stomach pain, wouldn’t you go to the doctor? It’s that simple. I want to make this my mission, to take any shame out of this, to educate people about this”.
Image Credit: Facebook/Anushka Sharma
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Varun Dhawan: It’s difficult to go dark for a movie, but when he did Dhawan in the shadows. Dhawan, when he played a man obsessed in ‘Badlapur’, got so into his character’s skin that he was left exhausted mentally. In an interview later, he admitted, "I was depressed. I was not clinically declared depressed but I was heading there. I was very sad to a certain degree. I don't want to use the term 'depression' loosely because it's a serious illness. It definitely affected my mental health. I was prescribed and did see a doctor for it as well."
Image Credit: Instagram.com/varundvn