1 August 2011

Is India really a depressed nation?

WHO says India A depressed nation?

World Health Organisation study claims that India has the highest number ofdepressed people but the country's leading mental health institution - the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (Nimhans) - has refuted the findings.

According to experts at NIMHANS , WHO's figures could be 'highly inflated' and they see very few severe depression patients.

"Most people who come to the tertiary mental health care centre have moderate to mild forms of depression'' is their argument.

The WHO-sponsored study concluded that 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).

But Dr S K Chaturvedi, professor and head of the department of psychiatry, Nimhans, told TOI: "I think the figures in the study are highly inflated. There could be a methodological problem. If the criteria they are going by is based on the western populations, then it's not suitable for India. In practice, we see few cases of MDE. This is because the strong social support system and the family structure acts as a defence. This is not the case in the western world. They do not have that social support most of the times."

He said: "If we go by the study, then one-third of the country is depressed. I don't see so many sad people in India. In fact, Indians are more happy-go-lucky. Most of our patients suffer from dysthymia, a type of mild depression for a period of time in their lives. But with change in environment, support from family and people, they come out of it," he explained. 

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