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Mental health in India - statistics & facts

It is no surprise that the state of mental health of a country, correlates positively with its economic growth. Projections show that India will suffer massive economic losses owing to mental health conditions. As of 2015, on a global level, over 322.48 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depressive disorder and as of 2017, more than 14 percent of the total population in India suffer from variations of mental disorders. The majority of this share includes older adult females in India.

Why calculate burden of disease?

The burden of a disease or condition is calculated by adding together, the number of years of life a person loses due to disease or premature death, and the number of years of life lived with the disability. The sum of this is known as disability adjusted life year or DALY. While neuropsychiatric conditions are the leading causes of morbidity in many regions of the world today, they do not account for a significant number of deaths. In this context, such disorders are not regarded as having a major impact on the health of population. However, when the DALYs of such psychiatric disorders are calculated, it is able to effectively quantify, to an extent, not only the quality of a person’s life living with a mental disorder, but more, the implications it has in terms of contribution towards the society and economy. In India, the contribution of mental illnesses to total disease burden doubled between 1990 and 2017. Some of these include severe disorders such as autism, bipolar disorders, and schizophrenia. However, depression followed by anxiety disorders were found to be the most prevalent among the female adult population.

What makes Indians susceptible?

In India, every seventh person suffers from some form of mental disorder. The epidemiology of mental disorders, specifically, depression on a global scale, has been vastly studied. Today, it is regarded as the leading contributor to disease burden and morbidity worldwide, that may even result in suicide if left untreated. Risk factors, relative to developing depressive and anxiety disorders, include bullying victimization, childhood sexual abuse, intimate partner violence, and lead exposure as an environmental risk factor which can lead to idiopathic developmental intellectual disability.

Mental health and COVID-19

The implications of living in quarantine, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in India was not only a stress trigger but also had negative psychological effects on the population. Indians learnt to adapt to the new normal which affected every dimension of their lifestyle, i.e. levels of physical activity, sleep cycles, nutrition, and their social lives. In an attempt to cope with this paradigm shift, long bouts of stress caused by enforced isolation, financial stress, job cuts, along with unhealthy lifestyles were the precursors for depression and anxiety. In addition, those already victim to these disorders, prior to the pandemic, found their conditions to be exacerbated, as a result of social isolation and neglect due to overworked healthcare systems.

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Mental health in India

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