Get a top-rated Mini-MBA Certificate for $199 $29 (till 15th Dec)

From IIT to USA and back to India: The journey of a depression survivor

Depression survivor IIT India

Clinical depression isn’t something that many would be comfortable talking about. The stigma and public ignorance associated with the condition makes it all the more difficult to be open about it.

Aman (name changed), an IIT graduate who also holds a masters degree from USA, opens up and shares all the highs and lows of his academic and professional life as he battled depression and emerged victorious. We hope his journey helps others who are silently suffering and encourages them to take professional help.

It is also a reminder for everyone else to look beyond the degrees and designations, and not forget who you are doing all this for – yourself and your family. So, take a break and read on. It may be the most important article you read today.

My journey from IIT to USA and back

Story of a depression survivor by Aman

Before I begin, let’s solve a little puzzle. Here’s a situation with the following conditions:

1. I am unable to work.
2. But, I clearly want to work.
3. And, I also do not suffer from any physical disability to prevent me from doing my work.

What do you think is wrong with me? – You might say either I am lazy or crazy. Not your fault in thinking so. A person capable and willing to do something, and yet not able to do the same must be one of the two. Right? However, he is not. This is where clinical depression comes into the picture. It is that grey area (in the above situation), which we are not able to explain. Please read on.

My Story

Born and raised in a typical middle-class family, both parents being government servants and wanting their kid to become either a doctor or an engineer – the gold standard in terms of career aspirations in post-1991 India. Since I can’t stand the sight of blood, destiny – and my dad – made the choice easy for me: “Beta IIT nikal lo, life set hai phir.”

Being the obedient child, I followed suit, joining one of the better known IIT coaching factories in town. On top of it, I had to double it up with my school – a real one at that, not one of those Kota dungeons. Two years of pure torture yielded an IIT admit in first crack; albeit, a lesser known. Back in the day, there used to be only 7 IITs, so even the least known had some recognition. Unlike the present times when you are not sure if it is the name of an IIT or a sabzi mandi.

Over the course of the next 4 years in college, I figured the two most probable career paths after engineering– coding if you are from CS (computer science)or call-it-whatever-because-nobody-cares’ profile for the non-CS crowd hoping to culminate into an MBA. Preferably from one of those holy IIMs. (Note – the Indian Startup juggernaut was yet to arrive on the scene, so non-CS profiles were limited.)

Unfortunately, I wasn’t interested in either of the two. One by choice and other due to lack of it. In fact,I happened to achieve the impossible at IIT – develop an interest in my own engineering subject. And that too in a non-CS branch. I am pretty sure my dad skipped a beat when he learned his son is not going to be an MBA. Not in the foreseeable future at least.

Instead, I applied for an MS degree in a novel field dealing with how to make our infrastructure more resilient and safe using wireless sensors (technical term – Structural Health Monitoring). With a solid internship in the US already, a healthy GRE score and decent recommendation letters, I managed to secure multiple admits in top-10 universities, ultimately choosing the one which matched my aspirations the best.

I am sure you must be thinking – where is he going with all this life story? Where’s the depression part? Here it comes!

Anyone who’s studied in a foreign university – and more so if it is in the US – would know how freaking expensive it is. Burdened with a huge loan, I decided to take up some research work with a professor working in my area. At best, it helped in paying my living expenses.

Secondly, to further cut down on tuition fee (the main culprit), I stacked up my course load touching levels of insanity; I aimed to finish the entire MS in a single year to avoid additional tuition cost.

Burning the midnight oil, few packs of Marlboro (quit now, you should too), and a bottle of Jack Daniels mixed with Red Bull every week, I did finish my MS in one year, but deferred graduation by a semester to find the stairway to heaven, the garden of Eden – a job!

Depression Begins

If you’ve actually been reading this article – and not just scrolling to look for the juicy bits – you’d remember I wrote above how my MS was in a novel field. Well, it was not just novel, it was restricted, too. Simply put – the field being a sensitive one, security-wise, there was a snowfall’s chance in Dubai that an international student could be hired into it. Given the whole H1B issue, clearances and all of that. On a quick side-note, let me give you some free ka gyan – practicality trumps passion, in most cases. Specially, for middle-class people.

What I mean to say is, while it was brave of me to explore uncharted waters, I should have done my homework thoroughly. More so when the homework costs INR 30 lakhs. By homework I mean, reading up on the job prospects, visa processes, talking to the alumni etc. Instead, I was too much passion-driven and maybe – in hindsight – the IIT degree had lulled me into not checking out the job prospects, expecting them to be served on a platter like in India.

Upon realizing the futility of all my hardwork – which included a fully-paid research internship in Switzerland, couple of international publications and a genuine desire to work in my chosen field – I slipped into depression.

Though, I didn’t realize it at that point in time. I understood it as a normal post-rejection sadness. But, it wasn’t. One by one, I withdrew myself from different activities. Actually, I only had one – job applications. Since, I had already finished my coursework.

An air of hopelessness started wrapping around me. I felt aimless, listless and purposeless all at the same time. I opened up to my professor. Having seen me beat up my ass all year round, he helped me land a run-of-the-mill structural engineer’s job within a day or two. Contacts (read Jugaad) work in America, just as much they do here in India.

The idea was to start with something at least and keep looking for the right profile. He had also offered a PhD position, but given the huge loan and a ‘disturbed’ mind, I chose not to pursue it right off the bat. Maybe a wrong call? God knows!

So, after taking a 15 day trip to India (post graduation), meeting up with family, friends and relatives, I returned and joined on my new job, immediately. However, things again went downhill pretty fast. Within a month, I could see my heart wasn’t in the job. I could barely muster up any enthusiasm towards my work. I was fatigued all the time even after guzzling coffee like water in a Delhi summer.

Only later during my diagnosis (for clinical depression), I would realize that the symptoms had almost nothing to do with the then job. I was more or less under the grip of depression by now.

Note – The word depression was nowhere in my mind until this time.  According to me, I was simply dejected. Imagine a break up. This was a professional break up. Or more like a one-sided love affair gone horribly wrong,ending up in a Mumbai Thana with your ass on the ice slab.

But, thank God for making us desis as resilient as cockroaches. With the help of Jack Daniels (the whiskey), my then girlfriend and friends (strictly in that order), I picked up myself and began re-applying for the job profiles I wanted in the first place.  5 months, 100+ applications, 30+ rejections later, I was a spent force. The depression had reached its peak. I was barely functional in my office. My manager even started doubting my qualifications.

JD, Red/Blue/Black Label, Marlboro, Camel, Dunhill, everything had stopped working. Not that they were actually doing anything in the first place. I am a fairly clean person otherwise, but I was drinking heavily and smoking the crap out of my lungs in search of some peace and comfort, which wasn’t to be found.

During the same time, I committed a blunder in one my structural design projects, jeopardizing the safety of many. It jolted me inside out and despite all the financial constraints, I knew it was time to take a step back and get a hold of myself first. I came clean to my boss who was supportive if nothing more. I quit immediately. Zero notice period. Who’d want a drunken mess in their office, after all?

Some journey from being one of the class toppers at IIT to becoming a borderline drunkard in a foreign land!

Since I quit under a year, I had a lot of time left on my EAD Card (pre-H1B document that allows STEM graduates to work upto 29 months). But first I had to fix up myself before I could even think of working again. I asked around and setup a diagnostic test with a psychiatrist. I thought, if anyone, it has to be an expert who can figure out what’s wrong with me – the panic attacks, perpetual negativity and a sense of inevitable doom.

But, life has a funny way of screwing you over even when you want to do all the right things. Read on…

The Game Changer

To say medical treatment in the US is expensive is to say Sachin Tendulkar was a good batsman. It is a criminal understatement. Shit hit the fan when I was told psychiatric issues are not covered in my health insurance plan. I had been paying $150 per month for over two years, but the only time I actually needed the insurance, it went Kambli on me – useless.

Out of job, with hardly any savings (all going into paying my loan), I could see no way of continuing my treatment in the US. To give you some perspective – a single visit to a doctor cost ~$100. Plus the medications, and therapy sessions in my case costing a limb every time.

Upon discussing with my psychiatrist and parents (had told them by now), I thought going back to India would be the best option under the circumstances. I had been diagnosed with moderate-to-severe depression, general anxiety disorder with early stage bipolar tendencies. I was told in no uncertain terms by the doctor that health should be my first priority. I had no reason to doubt her and duly booked a flight back home.

Treatment Begins

For all the misery my over-ambitious middle-class parents had piled on me over the years, they went into an overdrive in ensuring I get the best treatment. Maybe they partly blamed themselves for my situation. That’s the thing with Indian parents: they first beat you up, and then buy you a candy to even out. Ha!

Anyway. I was booked with one of the top psychiatrists in Delhi, and she swiftly started me on anti-depressants among other things.

So here’s the thing with clinical depression, and mental illness in general. It is not so black-and-white like other illnesses. Depression manifests differently in everyone. For some it might lean more towards suicidal tendencies (how most people imagine depression), for others it might be a continued loss of energy and interest in daily activities or even cognitive impairment in severe cases. You may check out the complete list of symptoms here.

Consequently, the same anti-depressants may not work for everyone. Each combination takes 4-to-6 weeks to kick in. And there’s no objective way to tell which one will work for you. You’ll simply have to bite the bullet and remain patient. For instance, in my case, the first 2 combination of anti-depressants didn’t do much. I changed my doctor to get a fresh perspective. More than 6 months into the treatment, we ultimately found the cocktail (medication) that worked well for me. Within 8 weeks, I could see perceptible improvement in myself.

Subsequently, I also began with my therapy sessions – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), it is called. I am told it is the go-to therapy for treating depression; however, it is not the only one. One needs to work with his/her psychiatrist to figure out what’s best for them. Also, not all cases of depression require therapy. Lastly, the entire treatment for a depressive episode lasts from 8 months at the very least to the time you feel better.

Fast forward to the present day, it has been close to 2 years since I returned to India. I recently got off my medication for depression. Completely.

What I did during Depression

Though I had given myself a year for this entire thing, however, I didn’t want to take any chances. Hence, I gradually eased myself into work only in the second year. To keep busy and in the thick of things professionally, I started taking up small, independent projects (related to my prior area of work experience), and started working from home.

The earnings were modest, but made a positive impact on my depleted self-confidence, worth a million bucks. I also began to write in the meantime, and found out I ain’t all that bad at it. As in people are willing to pay me. for it. Not a lot. But that’s not the point.

During the home-stay period (initial months of the treatment), I also finished the entire coursework of an MA degree in Sociology (purely out of interest in Indian social problems). I am now thinking of writing its exams through an open school for validation. After all, those landscaped A4 sheets of bonded paper still matter, else no one buys your story. Also, I am mid-way through a crude attempt at writing a book tentatively based on Indian Society.

The idea was to occupy myself with positive and enriching activities. Because, after a point, it becomes a chore to kill time itself. Secondly, it has a cathartic effect vis-à-vis the depression.

The Losses

Real life is not a Bollywood movie. Therefore, I’ll be honest to admit this entire experience did come with heavy costs. And not just financial. I had to suffer in my career. I lost my girlfriend of 3 years, who I was supposed to get engaged to at the end of that year.

I am behind most of my peers today. My original career aspirations (smart, safe infrastructure, remember?) are more or less dead, mainly due to lack of opportunities in India in the said field.

So in addition to being already behind my peers, I have to chalk out a fresh career path for myself. Regardless of it all, I am not bogged down. On the brighter side, I regained myself. With the worst behind me, hopefully things will only get better.

The Ending

Having covered the whole 9 yards of clinical depression, and reading up a lot on the subject on my way, I wish to share a few parting thoughts which may help you or anyone you know who might be suffering:

  1. If it doesn’t feel normal, it most likely isn’t. Talk to people. Consult an expert.
  2. Depression is as real as climate change. And it is a legitimate illness, where the delicate hormonal balance in your brain goes awry.You’d be surprised to know more people die of depression related suicides than lung cancer in India.
  3. Thus, depression is not something you can just shake off – like a bad day at work. An outing to a bar won’t treat it. Trust me.
  4. Treatment for depression is costly in India, too. It is a cold fact. However, if diagnosed at mild levels, the treatment will be that much shorterlesser and cheaper. So, the more you delay, the more costly it is going to be.
  5. If you know someone who is clinically depressed, lend a patient ear, but nothing more. As much as you wish the best for him/her, don’t try to be the enforcer. Saying “come on, cheer up, don’t be a wuss” will only make it worse. Let a therapist handle that for you.

There’s no bravery in suffering silently. Career is important, but so is health, if not more. Seek help. And drop the stigma around mental illness. There are far too many people – especially in poor countries like India – who are unable to receive the right treatment. Either because of the social stigma or lack of resources.

I am just lucky that I was born to such parents who could afford it all and gave a damn about the so-called stigma. I also had a great support system in my friends and met some wonderful people during this tiring journey.

I have to point out one such person – Sameer Kamat. A few months back I had emailed him for an entirely different purpose, but somehow ended up narrating him this entire story on phone, which you are reading now. It must have taken nearly 2 hours of his prime consultancy time.

As I mentioned above, rightly so, he only lent a patient ear, and was honest to admit he knew not a lot about clinical depression. Without giving any fundas, he simply enquired if I was doing fine, days later. That’s it. A depressed person only needs that much.

In fact, he is the one who encouraged me to pen down my journey, for it might help someone, he thought. The point is not to tell you all how great Sameer is. But to say that talk to people, lend someone a comforting hand. Without doing a profit and loss analysis. For once. There’s an inherent goodness within humanity which we have almost forgotten.

Okay! I really should wrap up now. Thank you for making it thus far. I promise I didn’t intend it to be this long. But, I’ll be glad if you could take even a single thing from my story. And please do not email Sameer for depression related issues. He is not a doctor. I just accidentally bumped into him.

One of his quotes that has stuck with me:

Sometimes the nice guys are dealt the bad cards, you just need to hang in there.

Related articles:
Story of an MBA dropout – An IITian goes Beyond The MBA Hype
And on the other end of the spectrum, here’s an article about getting into a top MBA program without a top brand engineering degree – Top MBA with an average engineering degree? and Life before and after IIT Bombay, INSEAD and McKinsey
Depression in Corporate India: Statistics, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
Image credit:

Mini-MBA | Start here | Success stories | Reality check | Knowledgebase | Scholarships | Services

Serious about higher ed? Follow us:


65 thoughts on “From IIT to USA and back to India: The journey of a depression survivor”

  1. Hello Aman,
    All I can say is that I am deeply touched by your story & thank you for sharing it.

    “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”- Winston Churchill

    Thank you Sameer, for your thoughtfulness and generosity. You are a gem of a person. Wish you the best always…

    • Hello Aman yr story is touching, my son 22 year old suffering from depression.not even listening ,became lazy dropped the college what to do.really helpless

      • A year ago due to subsequent family issue, I lost interest in everything, I couldn’t focus on anything, talked to Manager on this, despite his advice I decided to take a break.
        It’s been a 6 months, m still in depression. After famly forcing to start a job, got job offers but still in hell lot of depression to go back to work, trying to figuring out what to do bring back the livelihood that i earlier had.
        Ur 3, 5 point makes perfect sense.

        Upon reading ur experience m thinking of talking a therapist.

        Thanks a hell lot for sharing.

  2. Hi ,

    I am having 10 Years of IT experience . Havig Good Communication skills But Avaerage Technical Skills. Very Annoyed with My current role.

    I recently shifted from MNC to India Based Organization , Feeling very difficult with work culture . I am started feeling very depressed and not able to perform in my current task due to new environment and Colleagues behavior. Going into depression Day by Day. I talked with Manger but that it did nt work .

    Next my plan is to switch over my career to Managerial work like Project management role. Please give me your advice Is that current decision ?

    Rekha (name changed)

    Please post it as anonymous.

    • Rekha,

      Being depressed is quite different from being clinically depressed. From what you’ve written, you seem to be unhappy and dissatisfied with your job. It may not necessarily be clinical depression. In any case, consult an expert near you to be sure.

  3. Hi,
    My name is Kunal. I have achieved Bachelor of Engineering in Electronics and Telecommunication in 2005 (I lost my right leg ankle in an accident).
    After a year gap, I pursued Master of Science (M.S.) in Electrical and Computer Engineering from USA from August 2006 to December 2010. It took me a long to complete MS in USA because I was stuck with Psychological Depression in USA from 2008 onward. I somehow finished my MS education in 2010. I applied for a job in IT industry and worked there for 5 months in 2011. Then I had an accident again (minor) so I came to India in 2012. I did not got a job in India in IT industry as again I had a long going depression. Finally I landed an internship in IT in Dec 2013 to Feb 2014. Then I got a job as Back office operations executive in Web Development company. I was promoted to Back office Manager. I stopped taking my Depression medicine then, because of which I could not concentrate and I had to leave that job in Oct 2014. I went into depression again.

    Now I am taking my medicine and working as Account Executive from July 2016. I am considering going to Hardware Networking by doing CCNA training as I had done my BE in Electronics and Telecommunication.

    Please Advice if I am correct in my decision and suggest a career path for me.(I cannot pursue MBA as I don’t have that kind of money.)


    • Hi Kunal,

      I cannot comment on the career side of things in your case. But all I can suggest is to carry with your depression medication and treatment overall, very religiously. From whatever I’ve read and heard from doctors, anti-depressants shouldn’t be taken lightly as they make changes in your brain chemicals. You wouldn’t want to be stuck mid-way. So take your meds properly and keep in touch with your doctor. You’ll feel much better both physically and mentally once treated completely. Then you’ll be in a position to make better choices regarding your career as well.

  4. If you wrote about Indian society the same way you’ve written this piece, everyone reading that would definitely have depression.

  5. Hello, Aman, I’m completely awestruck by your courage. It takes a lot of guts to accept surroundings as they are and express them. Hats off!

    • Thanks Palab. You are absolutely right when you say it takes courage to accept reality. Even I kept on denying it for the longest part until the reality itself caught up with me.

  6. Hi! Aman, I would like to thank you for sharing your experience on a such critical and sensitive issue of depression. I know what it must have taken for your pen down your thoughts as I, myself has been through depression for many years.
    I am impressed by the flow of thoughts, touch of reality, straight to the point and language used especially the comparison of Sachin and Kambli, was an epic!
    You are going to be a the #NextBigThing, in literature…keep it up!
    I am very happy that you emphasized the importance of diagnosis, familial support and completion of treatment in this process.
    I am also humbled that you are grateful to Sameer Kamat, trust me buddy, in today’s world very few people are like you, so please never let this quality go from you.
    All in All, I am impressed by the inspirational stuff, I wish you all the very best for your next endeavour and looking forward to your #bestseller because you have made technical and geeky public health guy like me to write a comment…as it touched my heart!

    • Thanks Nishant for the lovely response. The idea was indeed to make a sensitive topic like depression sound less daunting. In our competitive race we often neglect the health aspect and tend to pay a premium later. Hope people take positives from this piece.

  7. Hi Aman,
    Enjoyed reading your piece! A lot of it resonates with my personal experience ( IIT, pursuing passion without realising pragmatism in US, post-rejection sadness ).
    Fortunately, I had help from the counseling center here in school and I think my personal situation did not warrant medication.

    A year later, I’ve finished the PhD, landed a job with a dream company and am in a fulfilling relationship.

    I learnt a lot about depression and my opinion has completely changed on psychological problems. I definitely don’t have the stigma, that I used to. I used to be cynical of psychologists and psychiatrists. My personal experience taught me lessons.

    I think the social structure in the US is very different from the one in India and loneliness easily creeps in. But like you said the causes and symptoms span a spectrum and I don’t attempt to trivialize the complexity.

    I liked the humorous take on the article. The suttle cricket metaphors were funny and I think most Desis would love reading it.

    • Thanks Vimal for the positive response. Yes the social structure in the US is partly to be blamed, but it is mostly the parameters you set around yourselves.

      I am glad things worked out for you before spiraling out of control.

      Best Wishes.

  8. Loved reading your story and I am sure it will help so many people. You are so resilient and did more things in your treatment period than most people in perfect health can/will manage to. I wish you all the best in your future endeavours!

    • Thank you, Vani. As I wrote in the article, after a point killing time becomes a headache in itself. So I tried to occupy myself with fulfilling activities.

  9. A little off topic content here, but sure was a worthy read. I had to comment since I felt sorry for the guy. Sometimes, driving people to achieve too much at an early age causes this sort of things. There is loss of childhood charm, activities, friends and memories that people lose when they don’t have work life balance.

    I had a roommate in college who was like this. Indian parents believe in delayed gratification and push their children very hard, but what you went through is quite insane. Tell you one thing, you have a great education and trust me you will make a living. Wish you luck.

  10. Please suggest how should a wife deal with a clinically depressed husband (shares similar background of being an IITian). He has left job just because he lost interest in it, not sharing anything with wife- be it about health or about money, moody, without any hobbies, doesn’t like being with people. He has started behaving like a racist and sadist in recent times. On one hand he spends lavishly on his siblings while on the other he does not spend a penny on kids or wife. Behaves normally with them but very weird at home.
    It has been a decade with him….things deteriorating at faster pace now.

    • Hi Asmita,

      All I can suggest is get him to see a psychiatrist. No harm in getting an expert opinion. From what I am reading it looks like a case of maniac depression but again, I am no doctor.

  11. Hi. I have been to the US in 2008 for masters. But discontinued it due to severe depression. I am in India since then. Is it advisable to pursue masters again now? It’s 2017 now. I am better now but depend on medication. How will I manage with the medications in the US?

    • I can’t comment on the career side of things. Regarding medication, it is going to be tough for you to procure there. By tough I mean expensive, unless there’s an insurance plan that can cover you.

  12. Kudos to the man for fighting it all back and has regained himself. Bravo! For me, your story is way too powerful and inspiring. It can certainly make a positive impact for someone actually facing situation like yours. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Great read Sir. It’s quite eye opening for many who don’t know how to deal depression cases. My sister got divorced few years back after 9 years of marriage. She has 6years daughter who is been taken care by my parents since kid. Parents are giving support all the time but sister mood swings during depression made her to react against them very badly. I give her positive taking all time but there is no use after few days. Just positive talking and positive environment will not be sufficient as I see . Need some meds along as well looks like reading your case.

  14. Aman,

    This is a subject of interest to me.

    What I find among Indian American families is the desire to conform to certain career stereotypes, and not allowing the youngster to be comfortable in their own skin. Yes, a parent can guide, and expect certain behaviors upto say 18 or so, but ultimately they need to let the child make decisions about his or her future

    I agree there is no substitute for a supportive, non judgemental family or set of friends .

    BTW, the company Verizon has ads on TV , promoting their work with intelligent infrastructure…. Stuff like sensors in roads, bridges that track traffic, among other things. You should consider talking to them.

  15. The situation is almost same for me except I am not from IIT. I suffered 15L and girlfriend too. With an incomplete MS and depression, I am struggling to get back on my feet. This story comes close to mine.

  16. Good luck moving forward buddy! My wife went through depression and I had to bring her back from US to India after living there for almost 12 years,..

    I know how it feels.. your story is a good lesson for ppl on prioritising what matters in their life..

  17. Hello aman
    Your article is awesome
    Because of this I am feeling relieved as because of society, people are crushed leading to depression and it happened to me.
    My parents think that depression can be cured normally but the circumstances created by the school (having a different board ib) because of them I suffered in worst way leading me to make a suicide attempt. Thanks for this article to clear my mind that good score are not necessary

    • Hi Ayush,

      Sorry to hear that you attempted such a drastic step. Yes, depression is often understood quite casually. I hope you are doing better now.

  18. Thanks for sharing this story bro, I have been through a similar phase where I left my high-paying job to pursue trading and suffered huge losses,lost huge opportunites and cursed myself again and again for my reckless decision , your story is a huge inspiration for someone like me trying to get back on the feet ,

  19. Hi,

    Loss of interest and vitality are the alarming symptoms of depression. I think myself being in one. I was an avid reader and football watcher but even football doesn’t excite me anymore. Not a great career and regrettable academic past has been the cause of it . Overwhelmed by self pity , constant guilt and regret . As if I have been chained by them .

    If you could suggest a good Doctor ( i will google him/ her up) that would be extremely useful for me . Anyway Thanks and I am glad you came out of it

    • Hi Prattham,

      Search on Practo for where you live. Go by verified views. Find someone who is accessible than searching for the “best” – which is subjective. What worked for me may not work for you. Go with an open mind and the possibility that things may not work out in the first try.

  20. Hi,
    Thanks a lot for writing this. It makes me feel I am not alobe in this.
    I work as air conditioning engineer in UK (2 years). Followed the same trend, BE then MS in UK and got a job. I knew I had depression and anxiety but the stress of screwing up those imp years of education scared the shit out of me so I dealt with it just to get through. After I got a job it got really bad especially anxiety, I started screwing up at work but getting through and had a realization same as yours that health is and should be the top most priority. I am planning to move back to India at the end of this year (2018). Can u give me some tips on journey and experience in india, I am also planning to consult a psychiatrist, take a break of 3-6 months and then get a job.
    If there is any guidance you can provide will be really grateful.
    Thanks once again

    • Hi Vishal,

      You don’t know you have depression and/or anxiety until you see a psychiatrist. These are simply terms that have become common in our daily vocabulary. Consult an expert. You would be surprised to find that your condition may have nothing to with depression in the first place. It might be a deficiency or gland malfunctioning (I am not a doctor, just giving you examples). Being sad and tired doesn’t automatically make you clinically depressed.

      • Regarding a psychiatrist, search on Practo – go by verified reviews. But more importantly, find someone who is accessible as you’ll be seeing him/her a lot in the beginning. Also, unfortunately, treatment will be a bit expensive. There are no two ways about it. However, I assure you that if done properly it will the best investment you’ll make. Best wishes!

  21. Thank you! I am going through the same problems as you had went through. Due to depression I also quit my job and had no idea what to do. Your blog has given me a hope

    • Hi Tania,

      I am glad the article gave you some hope. Hope alone can be a powerful tool in depression. Wishing you all the best.

  22. Hello Aman

    Thanks for sharing. I could draw clear parallels between your story and my life. Having graduated from Cambridge University on Commonwealth scholarship, I find myself sitting at home today in depression with no aim or purpose. I have been feeling suicidal for quite some time .Your story gives me much hope. Thanks again. V

  23. Hi Aman ,

    Try Meditation , i hope it will help you . I have tried it , it really makes you calm , peaceful and increase your will power and energy level .

  24. My son after doing his B Tech Computer Sc. from Faridabad(India) & working at IBM for one year,went to USA for MS Computer Engg , returned after 2 yrs.(not sure what he did there as he is reluctant to mention MS in his CV).After serving 7 yrs in Net working in small company he quit the job. Stayed home for 1.5 yrs then he went to USA on 10 yr visa.Returned after 1.5 yrs and since then not doing stable job. Stays in job for a few months and quits in fit of moment.Not able to understand the situation.May not lead to Depression as he is always in house sleeping,watching TV, sitting in front of Computer Desktop.Please guide.

  25. Eloquent and poignant write-up. Thank you for sharing your story unhesitatingly.

    Here’s a bit about my journey :

    I came to USA in fall 2007, faced the popular recession in 2008-2010. My research adviser recommended me for an internship and finally I got a full time position in one of the leading semi-conductor company in 2011. Work was such a strong impetus for the first 3 years and I was rewarded for my inexorable efforts. Then life happened and I probably hit the lowest point (so far) in my state of mind. Relationship problems affected work for almost 1.5 years. Between year 3 – year 6 at work, I had some high points at work. But after year 5, I got introduced to office politics and its been bothering me ever since. When people are technically deficient but they are at higher grade level, they act pretentious, dissuading and derisive towards motivated and passionate people. Its also a job security tactics.

    The desire to be a scientist has always been on my mind and therefore I feel quite inadequate as an Electrical Engineer. But I couldn’t find the exact field in cognitive sciences that I wanted pursue for the next half decade. I couldn’t work towards PhD applications (take GRE again, SOP, recommendation letters etc) with conviction until recently. Now my personal life is quite fulfilling. I have a cordial relationship with my manager. Am able to dedicate about 20 hrs/ week towards GRE prep.

    I have been an aloof person for most of my life. Like some people said in the comment section, the social structure of USA endows you with the feeling of loneliness, I felt it quite deeply.

    I would say a few things helped me tremendously to maintain distance from the clutches of depression:

    1) In 2014 I joined a running club and started training of races. In 2016, I had to leave the group due to conflicts with the group leader. By this time, I had run 5 marathons, 13 half marathons and 1 relay race. Running has become an inseparable part of my life, a great motivation booster. Speed training engenders feelings of triumph, reverence and exuberance. I want to qualify for Boston soon.

    2) Rock Climbing, Ice climbing and mountaineering – In 2017, I climbed Mt. Chimborazo 20,564′ in Ecuador without dedicated training. I discovered my love for snow covered mountains and climbing. In 2018, I free soloed (i.e climbing unroped without any protection) a 2500′ ice wall 45-55 degrees on the west face of Mt. Hood, OR.
    This boosted my confidence enormously. I also led several multipitch trad routes (unbolted rock climbing, where you place your own protection). I realized my potential in varied fields.

    3) Finding the right partner to gel well with my eccentric personalty. Supportive parents to not push me for marriage.

    4) Meditation – Started with 6 phase meditation (described in the book : Code for an extraordinary mind by Vishen Lakhiani) as I wanted a reasonable meditation technique.

    5) Healthy eating habits – Not only a requirement to perform in sports but also to feel good and practicing unwavering focus.

    I do feel anxiety at times because
    I want to pursue PhD full time.
    I dont have a greencard yet.
    I have been out of school for 7 years.
    I will have to embrace a thrifty lifestyle as I become a grad student again.
    Will I be successful in some ground breaking research ?

    I don’t know the answers, but I know that I have passion for multiple disciplines and the confidence gained in one dimension will motivate me to thrive in another dimension despite the failures. Whether I succeed in inventing/discovering something ground breaking or not but during my last minutes, I will be satisfied that I tried.


  26. Great article Aman.My parents are the same way as yours .Getting into IITs was the only goal of my parents and mine.I’m the obedient child of my parents and role model for my siblings and cousins.Finally graduated from NIT SRINAGAR, though not the top ones.I was the topper there.Through campus placements ,got job in INFOSYS.I left the job in 4months.My parents want me to do masters abroad.But I want to do some research work in electronics field.I doubt if I can work there as I don’t have much financial support and don’t want to slide to computer science field.I want to do research work in India.My parents are forcing me to go abroad.I always wanted to do right things but end up repenting.I’m feeling so helpless and aimless.

  27. Hi,

    I know Indian parents can be very unreasonable and unwittingly become their children’s worst nightmare but I think they do have (however unreasonable and tyrannical that might be) our best interests in mind. They are not pushing us into something to get any sadistic pleasure out of it.

    But your story is definitely something Indian tiger moms and dads should read to make them realize when they should step back. If a child pursues their own dream then it is not a problem but when they have to live someone else’s dream then things go horribly wrong. However, not all passion has market value hence I might be a philanthropist at heart but I need deep pockets to become one, or have contacts in government to fund me. Hence, follow your dream,, reads good as a Whatsapp forward but may not be such a feasible option.

    Our brand conscious country will not fail you, you can try your hand in several things in India and if you put those brands in your resume lot of doors will open up for you, I am sure.

    If you can add meditation and Sudarshan Kriya with it, you will be a winner in no time.

  28. Great of you to come out in open and giving support to other people.

    I would like to share all those Indians who do feel that they are not able to cope up. Go for Government job. It is the best way and you will be at peace with yourself and you can still cope better and one day out of it.

    You can try astrology too, though I know I will face the flak but the God is also a friend in helping times. Try chanting Hanuman Chalisa.
    Sometimes luck and faith saves the day!

    Try to focus yourself day in and day out. Follow any sportsperson or some one from the field of you choice, you admire most and get inspired.

    Accept the reality as fast as you can, saves you a hell lot of time. Please take help even if “you” think you can come out of it on your own. Most probably you won’t, cause it’s a spiral. The lasting effects will leave many scars.

    There may be someone in your family who is suffering from depression and it can be due to genes too.

    Hope you all felt something common with my views.


  29. Dear Aman
    Thanks for putting out your story. I am also an iit graduate passed out in 2010 from one of the top 5 iits with a dual degree in a non CS field.
    I had been struggling with clinical depression and anxiety from that time. I have gone throgh the horrors of continuosly crying for hours, being on sedatives for years, not able to function at all in my job. Luckily i joined a government job which had little pressure. But I am in a much better space now with all medications removed.
    In between these 9 years, I have also lost a decade of career growth and financially too. I have 2-3 years of gap in my resume after passing out. I had left the government job earlier.
    Should I mention my mental illness history to prospective future employers to justify the gap??
    Rohan(name changed)

  30. Dear Friends,

    I have gone through the feed back and comments made by many of you. However, I do not understand why brilliant students like you should get depressed. You all have a very good academic background and with a modest word, may I mention that you are all very intelligent, brilliant and having very good exposure internationally compared to your previous generation.

    Many in your previous generation had a normal education, maintained a normal work-home balance, prayed in the temples / churches / mosques and incidents of depression used to be low.

    In today’s environment, though you are all miles ahead in terms of intelligence, academic brilliance and international exposure compared to your peers, it is equally heartening to mention that most of you are miles ahead in terms of expectations which is resulting in depression.

    Raghuraman Krishnamurthy

    • I would say, having lots of “self expectation” could be one of the major reasons for depression. I think I am one of those guys who are very ahead of his peers in his career, earning very decent salary in USA, have good command over my work , working in USA’s 100 best place to work for companies, I could literally get retired from my company if I want to, but going through very tough time of my life. (May be minor clinical depression). I feel all these things are worthless as I am not enjoying my work. As I have lost interests from everything. Sometimes the world means nothing to me( yes, no money, no jobs, no competition, no material pleasures, no social work, nothing). But, I have a huge expectations from myself., which keeps me alive. I am literally dragging myself to figure out the way for my life. I keep thinking almost 24 hrs a day (yes, in sleep also as I don’t go in deep sleep mode) as I really want to do something meaningful in my life.

      On a positive side, higher expectation keeps you moving and remind you to come out from your comfort zone. Though Journey is not peaceful for sure, but end result will be definitely good as I said Meaningful goals.

      I guess what we need to learn is how to deal with your self expectation and clinical depression at the same time. Both go hands in hand untill you succeed to figure out your “OWN” way. I started doing meditation, spending little more time with friends and family , little break on ambitious plans (just a break, not closure). Ultimately, as Aman mentioned in the article, hold on, first get yourself in a good healthy condition (MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY BOTH) and then you will be able to achieve anything as you are already an ambitious person.

      Trust your gut but give sometime to yourself. Though I am very impatient person, I learnt it very hard way that “Patience is the key for peace of mind”

      Confused Ambitious Person just like many others

  31. Hello Aman,
    Being a parent I’m feeling lucky I got to read your story & others too .It will really help me in taking healthy decisions for my son who’s just 13 yrs old .I think I’ve really made a gud decision in introducing him into yoga n meditations. It really helps to align body ,soul n mind n brings a bigger picture of your life that you are more than a robot ,an energy particle vibrating so strongly which helps you deal with the material n practical world without getting so much involved .I also encourage him n his friends into reading books .They are more inclined towards fiction but I’ve also introduced them to the panchtantras, Mahabharat n Ramayanan Bhagwat Geeta versions for kids .ofcourse the famous “The Secret ” by Rhonda Byrne ,”Power of your subconscious Mind ” are in my future list.
    Today’s generation is really far more genius n brilliant but it’s all futile when they are being programmed only as a robot .I really want a sensitive n empathic surrounding s for my children .
    And for this I will surely start up with more children as soon as I get time n opportunity .
    Stay blessed .

  32. Hi Aman, This is common and especially in India people don’t get it- there’s a lot of apathy even among medical professionals. I’ve been close during a PhD abroad. What helped me was that I am from the medical field. I opted for TDCS – that was a game changer for me. It’s an alternative to pharmaceuticals often without the side effects. Just sharing in case it helps someone else. There’s a lot of research now. It’s great that you put this down for others to read. I think there are lots of intelligent and sensitive inernational students who face similar issues thanks to a tremendous amount of stress on a migrant students, the scale of which is often not perceived by oneself. The people affected are usually driven and perfectionists and it can mean a big blow to their own sense of self worth. I wish more people open up and talk about it.

    • Hi Aman,

      Do you think it is much more common for Indian students to have depression who travel abroad for education more so than any other nationality? I was wondering if the Indian Embassy has an active and compulsory counselling for students when they travel abroad to warn them about depression, homesickness and other pitfalls. It could have totally helped me. I am currently feeling quite lonely and homesick pursuing my masters at Germany.

  33. Hi, An
    Thanks for sharing your views. I am also PhD from abroad and a medical professional. Despite having huge qualification I was unable to land up with a Job.
    I would like to know more about this field “TDCS”.
    @ Aman and Sameer, Thank you for sharing this story of yours. I am facing similar type of situation right now in my life. Would like to have a conversation to know how to cope up with this type of situation.

  34. First.. During upbringing of children, people make them dream IIT as their life goal rather than stepping stone..
    Second.. You have got your wisdom too early in your life and having self-less goals making you wander everywhere. You have to be selfish first before you start enjoying specific job/role/every day achievements.
    Third.. if you can’t make good use of your life, then give it to your spouse (submission) who can achieve her goals with help of your skills and capabilities

  35. Hello Aman

    Thanks for putting out there how depression can change the course of our live and how to make the best out of it. I was a PhD student in the USA and had to quit it due to severe depression just in 2 years. But what I found was there is a stark difference how it is treated in the USA and in India. I’m in India since last one year and I have not been satisfied with the treatment provided by the psychiatrist and have not found “the one”. But it has been a one hell of journey..being a top student to staying at whom without any job in hand! I’m glad I could discover myself in this one year. It has just been difficult to address people’s doubts as to why exactly I have been staying at home since you know how Indian society is :(. But my parents have been very supportive of me and I find myself very lucky in this aspect. As you have mentioned you started doing various activities I too started yoga,meditation, swimming and running, also started studying social sciences and public policy as I had very much interest in these subjects. As to people who stereotype people with depression I would like to say that depression is very different from sadness. You are sad when you lose something or unable to achieve what you had aimed for but depression is not able to enjoy your success too as you are preoccupied with all the negative thoughts and no energy to do any activity. Those who are really suffering from depression please seek help and do not hide it behind the fake mask.Waiting for the day when depression is considered a serious illness unlike diabetes.

  36. Hi Aman,

    Your story is really touching! Being an IITian myself and belonging to a middle-class family, I completely echo everything you say. Unfortunately, many IITians (including) myself, face similar situations after graduating.
    Even I entered IIT with similar visions – obedient child followed his parents’words and sacrificed two years of childhood to ensure his path to IIT, with the aim of securing a comfortable job in the future. However, I realized during my corporate years that I am one of those crazy fellows who are made for research. As a matter of fact, the IITians are typically not made for the usual corporate jobs. Family responsibilities made me compromise on my career option and I joined an Australian University for PhD rather than my cherished universities in the USA, just to spend minimum time away from family. Facing the consequences has been really tough and I went through similar emotional states as you have been.

    I hope your story helps people in coming out of depression.

  37. Hello Aman,
    My condition is much more worst than you and even currently struggling through that phase, an unknown fear is crumbling me every time and yes it is related to professional deression. In short, I can say, I worked after B Tech for 8 years and then left job for something but not achieved that and now i am not being hired for creating that gap after 8 yrs and now I am really struggling and it is really very difficult, but i can not afford any treatment nor my dearest and nearest as everyone is poor now. What I need is that I need a job at any cost as I am struggling to fulfill the basic needs like food, cloth, etc such is my condition!!!!

    Any suggestion would be of great help


  38. Hi Aman

    I just want to let you know your voice saved a life. I have been in depression since past 3 years horrible ones even suicidal.
    Wanted to pursue postgraduate studies in India or in the US, but not in mental situation , as a woman all my compatriots have proceeded for masters and have completed and arr doing jobs. But I am still stuck in the MNC. Due to depression

    When You wrote this I was like finally:
    1. I am unable to work.
    2. But, I clearly want to work.
    3. And, I also do not suffer from any physical disability to prevent me from doing my work.

    I am 26 years of age and my parents are Pushing for marriage.

    You know the worst part?
    Last year I got admit in a decent college tier 2 but me the ambitious person wanted a top tier one in India for mba and this year I have nothing.

    Will have 5 years experience this year. Don’t know where to go the physical pain due to anxiety is so bad that sometimes I can’t move and have difficulty in breathing.

    To be honest right now I do not see much in life except the fact that I have to overcome the guilt of leaving the decent college.

    Was searching on google and stumbled across this.

    I hope you have the best future. And you being a brilliant student, I have no doubt you will climb all ladders of successes. Be it professional or personal.


Leave a Comment