56 million Indians suffer from depression

Swapnil MishraUpdated: Thursday, May 30, 2019, 04:37 AM IST
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Mumbai: After the suicide of a Mumbai IAS couple’s son who was apparently depressed, discussions on depression and mental problems has accelerated in the city. Experts say to overcome disorders like depression, talking about it for a few days will do no good but regular and repeated sessions can help the patients. According to statistics, more than five crore people in the country are currently distressed with some kind of mental problem.

India’s spending on mental healthcare is a meagre 0.06 per cent of its health budget and is much lesser than that of Bangladesh. The figure becomes more striking when one realizes that its health budget itself is only a little more than 1 per cent of GDP. However, this should come as no surprise in a country which sees mental health as some sort of a taboo, a weird thing to talk about, in short: ‘log kya kahenge ki humara baccha pagal hai’ (what people will say — our kid is mad?)

Sadly, depression is the most important reason for suicide and people suffering from it do not commit suicide immediately. “If someone is suffering from depression or showing some signs of it, he or she needs to consult doctors so that it becomes easy to come out from depression,” said psychiatrist Dr. Sagar Mundada. With depression, the possibility of suicide increases significantly and if the patient uses narcotics or has personality disorder, the chances are higher.

Also Read: Mumbai: Son of IAS couple found dead in Malabar Hill, suicide suspected

Not only 56 million Indians or 4.5 per cent of India’s population suffer from depression currently but another 38 million of the population suffer from anxiety disorders. According to the latest WHO report on depression, almost 7.5 per cent Indians suffer from major or minor mental disorders that require expert intervention.

One psychiatrist said the burden of depression cannot be ignored and needs to be treated immediately. “In October 2016, the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) in Bengaluru released a mental health survey stating the incidence of depression is roughly one in every 20 Indians or five per cent of the population,” said a psychiatrist of the King Edward Memorial Hospital.

On a daily basis, more than 10 patients go to private and governmental hospitals for getting treatment related to mental illness. “Due to less awareness among people in the city, they opt for tantriks rather than hospitals for treatment of mental illness,” added Dr. Mundada. As per WHO, one in four people in the world is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Currently, around 450 million people in the world are suffering from such disorders.

Also Read: Mumbai: Another suicide on Sea Link! Businessman’s son commits suicide over failed love

Depressive disorders are characterised by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, feelings of tiredness and poor concentration. Anxiety disorders refer to a group of mental disorders characterised by feelings of anxiety and fear, including generalised disorder (GAD), panic disorder, phobias, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“Depression cases are also increasing worldwide. From ordinary people to celebrities, it is present in all walks of life. Talking on depression can help to a great extent. There should be talk about it in the house, family, society everywhere. People do not come forward for treatment because of society and local people. I think the way children are taught lessons in dengue, malaria and hygiene in schools, mental health should also be part of their curriculum. The government has a very large role to play on mental health. Today, 5-6 per cent people in the country are troubled by some kind of mental illness. There is also shortage of psychiatrists across the country. Further, only one per cent of the health budget is available for mental health. In such a situation, the government should In such a situation, the government should focus on increasing the infrastructure related to this problem in the country and increasing the budget apart from raising awareness on depression. Regional mental hospitals also need more attention,” a senior doctor said.

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