Slump takes its toll: ‘three-fold rise in stress,suicidal tendency in city’

Restaurant owner Aman Gandhi,32,commits suicide by hanging himself. In his suicide note,Gandhi puts it to the enormous losses he suffered in business of late.

Written by Vidya Krishnan | New Delhi | Published:February 8, 2009 1:23 am

February 6:Restaurant owner Aman Gandhi,32,commits suicide by hanging himself. In his suicide note,Gandhi puts it to the enormous losses he suffered in business of late.

February 2:Businessman Ved Kumar Budhiraja,60,kills himself after suffering losses amounting to Rs.1.50 crore.

These are but just two recent cases of what the economists call the economic slowdown. And city psychiatrists say the fallout of mass layoffs,salary cuts and the general slump is beginning to take a heavy emotional toll: there has been a threefold increase in cases ranging from stress to depression,to even suicidal tendency in the Capital and its periphery. And as MNCs lay off employees,many are simultaneously arranging session for existing employees with psychiatrists to help them deal with stress. Dr Jitender Nagpal,senior consultant at VIMHANS,says young recruits in MNCs are the most vulnerable due to the ongoing uncertainty.

“Most common features in these patients are the high level of anxiety about their careers,” Dr Nagpal says. And that anxiety,he says,finds an outlet through overindulgence in alcohol and cigarettes. “This is an area of concern for us.”

In the last four months,Dr Nagpal says he has held several counselling sessions for employees at several MNCs. Most patients,he says,who seek help have either lost their jobs,or denied an appraisal,or lost huge amounts in the unstable stock market.

A recent World Health Organisation report says that depression,which is the largest illness worldwide,has grown significantly due to the ongoing global financial crisis. “Since the general mood is grim in times of crisis,it aggravates the condition of those suffering from borderline mental health issues,” says Dr Samir Parikh,consultant psychiatrist at Max Healthcare. “Since people are struggling to deal with financial loss at such a large scale we try and tell them that the current situation is temporary — it will pass.”

Dr Parikh says victims of layoff et al should avoid taking it personally — “it is not related with an individual’s performance; this is happening to everyone. One must learn to deal with it,however difficult the circumstances are.”

Doctors say people in these testing times should trust their ability and stay focussed. “One must never forget that employees have achieved whatever they have due to their ability,” Dr Parikh says. “Companies are not laying off employees on grounds of competence now.”

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