Depression is ranked as the single largest contributor to global disability
Depression is a common illness characterized by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that one normally enjoys, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for at least two weeks. Other symptoms include loss of energy; change in appetite; sleeping more/less; anxiety; reduced concentration; indecisiveness; restlessness; feelings of worthlessness, guilt or hopelessness; and thoughts of self-harm or even committing suicide.
Depression has multiple risk factors – biological (genetic, chronic diseases, terminal illness), psychological, social (familial, relationships, violence, disasters), cultural (religion, caste, beliefs, attitudes), economic etc. Consumption of alcohol and drugs can further aggravate the condition. Depending on the number and severity of symptoms, it can be categorized as mild, moderate, or severe. Effective treatment options are available.
Globally, the total number of people with depression was estimated to exceed 300 million in 2015, equivalent to 4.3% of the world’s population. In India, the National Mental Health Survey 2015-16 revealed that nearly 15% Indian adults need active intervention for one or more mental health issues and one in 20 Indians suffers from depression. It is estimated that in 2012, India had over 258 000 suicides, with the age-group of 15-49 years being most affected.
Depression is ranked as the single largest contributor to global disability (7.5% of all years lived with disability in 2015). At its worst, depression can lead to suicide; over 800 000 people die due to suicide every year. It is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds.
Although there are known, effective treatments for depression, fewer than half of those affected in the world (in many countries, fewer than 10%) receive such treatments. Barriers to effective care include a lack of resources, lack of trained health-care providers, and social stigma associated with mental disorders. Another barrier to effective care is inaccurate assessment.
Prevention programmes have been shown to reduce depression. Effective community approaches to prevent depression include school-based programmes to enhance a pattern of positive thinking in children and adolescents.
Government of India’s commitment is reflected in the National Mental Health Programme (NMHP), which encompasses life-skills training and counselling in educational institutions, workplace stress management and suicide prevention services, among others. At the primary care level, the Health and Wellness Centres under the Ayushman Bharat program have a provision for mental healthcare services.