BHOPAL: “A 15-year-old student was brought to me who had taken more than 30 tablets of paracetamol to commit suicide. When I asked his mother, she said he just got angry and did this sort of thing. She was completely ignorant about the problem her child was going through and this is how most people think of depression,” said Dr Rajni Chatterjee, HoD psychiatry, BMHRC. Two days ago, a 23-year-old engineering student committed suicide and also went live on Facebook telling about how to commit suicide. These incidents indicate how severely our society is inflicted with depression and anxiety.

WHO, sensing the importance of the issue given the rising incidents of suicides, dedicated the theme of World Health Day to Depression.

According to National Mental Health Survey, the projected estimates say depression has 1.41 per cent of prevalence in Madhya Pradesh and when converted into it comes to 6,78,500 people with depression in 2016 in the state. What is more shocking is the treatment gap, which is 80 per cent in case of depressive disorder.

Sukanya Ray, clinical psychologist, AIIMS Bhopal said there was a huge gap in people’s knowledge about depression and also about treatment. People don’t want to accept that someone from their family is suffering from depression and rather project it as a behavior trait of that person. “If a child does not talk much, it does not mean he/she is an introvert.

There is also a chance that he/she might be facing difficulty in expressing or is suffering from depression. This prolonged depression then leads to suicides and anxiety attacks. Not all cases are of prolonged depression but somehow the seed is sowed long ago in mind which is triggered with some sudden event. For example, there is a huge number of students who commit suicide after results are declared. The result triggers the fear of failure which was building inside them for a long time, due to pressure,” she said.

The treatment of depression is very crucial as it leads to drug and alcohol abuse and suicides. The overall suicide rate in MP accounts to 11.9 per cent which is highest 24.55 per cent in the age group of 18- 30 years, according to the NCRB 2014 data. Dr Rajni Chatterjee said, “The ignorance towards all kinds of mental illnesses is one of the reasons for the huge numbers. For any type of mental illness, people either associate it with madness or with superstitious beliefs of possession. The lack of information about mental disorders and also about depression is very high. But things are changing as compared to five years ago. Now people are accepting and coming for treatment.”

At BMHRC, 70-80 patients come for treatment of mental illness and nearly 30-35 patients come to AIIMS, among which 7-8 are for psychotherapy.

How to identify depression?

  1. Look for signs if a person or a child is in sadness for more than two weeks and is not resuming back to normal activities.
  2. Change in eating and sleeping patterns like excessive eating, not eating at all, not sleeping at all
  3. Change in behaviour. If someone is in depression, the behaviour of the person changes. For example, talking less or talking excessively. Not talking to anyone and showing no interest in meeting people. Secluding self from society
  4. Sudden weight gain
  5. Feeling fatigued all the time
  6. Mood swings
  7. Having trouble with attention, memory or decision making
  8. Not enjoying things which once used to excite
  9. Having suicidal thoughts
  10. Stomach ache, faintness, insomnia
  11. Drug abuse or alcohol abuse, etc
  12. Excessive dependence on social media and mobile and seclusion from society.

In a press conference on Thursday at AIIMS, Dr Arun Kokane, principal investigator, NMHS Madhya Pradesh said MP had some shocking results for mental illness and recorded the highest number in alcohol disorder (10.3) in the country and was second highest in tobacco use disorder (34.9) and mental health problems due to psychoactive substance (36.6). He also said treatment gap was so high that there were only 37 psychiatrists and 11 clinical psychologists in the state and this gap accounted for 90.69 per cent. He also informed that there were only two public mental hospitals and 14 medical colleges to provide mental health facilities in MP.

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