Monday, August 8, 2011

Indians are a depressed lot, finds WHO-backed study 27/7/2011 TOI

Article in TOI dated 27/7/2011

Nearly 36% of Indians suffered from what is called major depressive episode, which is characterized by sadness, loss of interest, feelings of guilt or low self-worth.
WHO ranks depression as the fourth leading cause of disability worldwide and projects that by 2020, it will be the second leading cause
Indians are among the world's most depressed. According to a World Health Organization-sponsored study, while around 9% of people in India reported having an extended period of depression within their lifetime, nearly 36% suffered from what is called Major Depressive Episode (MDE).
MDE is characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy and poor concentration, besides feeling depressed.
Lowest prevalence of MDE was in China (12%). The average age of depression in India is 31.9 years compared to 18.8 years in China, and 22.7 years in the US.
The study, published in the BMC Medicine journal and based on interviews of more than 89,000 people in 18 different countries by 20 different researchers, says depression affects nearly 121 million people worldwide. It is the second contributor to shorter lifespan for individuals in the 15-44 age group.
Psychiatrist Dr Jitender Nagpal from VIMHANS said, "Depression can arise from day-to-day activities. However, MDE is much more serious. This is the feeling of tremendous helplessness, and worthlessness. Planned suicide is highest among those suffering from MDE. Those suffering from MDE don't have the strength to conduct day-to-day chores and become dysfunctional."
The percentage of respondents, who had lifetime MDE was higher in high-income (28.1%) than in low to middle-income (19.8%) countries. When it came to lifetime prevalence rates of depression, France (21%) and the US (19.2%) reported the highest rates of depression. Women are twice as likely to suffer depression as men and the loss of a partner, whether from death or divorce, was a main factor, the study reveals.
He added, "Increased stress, lonely lives and the falling apart of the social support systems like joint families is a major cause of growing depression among Indians." The study says, "The average lifetime and 12-month prevalence estimates of MDE were 14.6% and 5.5% in the 10 high-income and 11.1% and 5.9% in the eight low to middle-income countries. The average age of onset ascertained retrospectively was 25.7 in the high-income and 24 in low to middle-income countries. The female: male ratio was about 2:1."

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