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Depression Around the World: Overcoming Cultural Stigma

From the Show: Naturally Savvy
Summary: Depression is stigmatized enough in the U.S. Can you imagine living in a culture where there is no word to describe it?
Air Date: 8/6/14
Duration: 10
Host: Andrea Donsky, RHN and Lisa Davis, MPH
Guest Bio: Gayathri Ramprasad
Gayathri Ramprasad is the Founder and President of ASHA International, a nonprofit organization promoting personal, organizational, and community wellness. She is also the author of Shadows in the Sun: Healing from Depression and Finding the Light Within.

Her successful battle in overcoming life-threatening mental illness and her amazing recovery taught her the power of hope and holistic wellness. Now, she shares that message with others. Since the launch of ASHA International's wellness campaign, Healthy Minds, Healthy Lives in 2006, Gayathri's keynotes, wellness workshops, and cultural competence trainings have reached more than 30,000 people nationally and internationally, with a resounding message of hope and healing. Individuals and organizations alike applaud Gayathri as an agent of hope and transformational change.

Gayathri received her first undergraduate degree in science from Bangalore University in India. At George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon, she earned a second undergraduate degree in management and information systems and a master's in business administration. Gayathri is also a Certified Peer Specialist (CPS).

Gayathri is a member of the Global Speakers Federation and winner of the prestigious Eli Lilly Welcome Back Award for Lifetime Achievement and the Voice Award for Consumer Leadership sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. She is also the winner of the 2008 Outstanding Alumna Award from her alma mater George Fox University.
Depression Around the World: Overcoming Cultural Stigma
An estimated 350 million people struggle with depression around the world.

If that wasn't staggering enough, many cultures across the globe are ignorant about depression and other mental health issues.

It's something Gayathri Ramprasad knows all too well.

Gayathri grew up in India, where there was no word, no concept to represent "depression." She literally had no vocabulary to describe the horror she was experiencing.

Her family members were at a loss, and the physicians she went to never looked beyond the physical symptoms of her depression.

The only explanations offered were that she had been touched by the "evil eye" or by some sort of demon. Or, that she was simply crazy.

In the U.S., while depression is more easily diagnosed, it is also looked at as something that you just have to toughen up against and pull yourself out of. Depression isn't seen as on par with other diseases. You wouldn't say "tough it out" to someone who is struggling with cancer, or heart disease, or any other physical condition.

No matter what others around you might say, you can't simply "will" yourself or pray yourself out of the disease.

Fortunately, for Gayathri, she found the strength to escape her hell, and for the last decades of her life, she has dedicated herself to finding ways to approach and heal depression -- not only in her own life, but in the lives of others.

What are some ways Gayathri advocates for addressing depression?

Breath work is extremely beneficial, as is transcendental meditation (TM) and exercises like yoga. By utilizing these techniques, Gayathri changed her life in ways she would never have been able to believe.

She believes that healing powers are inherent in each one of us, they just need to be awakened and utilized.

The important thing to remember is that depression and other mental illnesses are just part of the human experience, not something of which to be shameful.

In this segment, Gayathri joins Lisa to share her own personal struggle with depression, as well as effective ways to address it and other conditions of mental illness.


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