Why depression needs to be taken seriously
Feeling of sadness, loss of interest in everyday activities, loss of appetite, lack of sleep, and poor concentration are just some signs of depression, a common mental disorder that affects a person’s ability to function and cope with everyday routine. In its most severe form, depression can lead to suicide, like in the case of Pratyusha Banerjee.
However, depression can be diagnosed and treated with therapy and/or medication before it leads to complications. The problem lies in acknowledging its existence and seeking help at the right time.
Depression statistics worldwide and in India
Depression is more common than one would assume it to be. According to World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates, over 350 million people worldwide are afflicted with depression. It is a major contributor to the global disease index. WHO states that depression currently ranks as the fourth leading cause of global disability, and would reach the second position by 2020.
Depression can affect anyone, irrespective of age, gender or marital or socio-economic status, though its occurrence increases as people age, and women seem to be at a higher risk than men.
The Indian situation doesn’t look any better. A 2011 study titled ‘Cross-national epidemiology of DSM-IV major depressive episode’, published in the BMC Medicine journal showed that the rate of major depression (or major depressive episodes (MDE)) was highest in India at 36 per cent. The study was conducted through interviews with 89,000 people across the globe.
Depression and suicide
The intense feeling of hopelessness and despair that is characteristic of depression increases the risk of suicide.
To a depressed person, suicide looks like the only way to escape the situation. Suicidal thoughts and talks are in fact a warning sign that a person is seriously depressed. The statistics on suicides in India as provided by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) are dismal, considering that these figures can be low if depression is taken seriously in the early stages and treated.
The 2013 NCRB report on Accidental deaths and suicides in India showed that:
- Over one lakh (1,34,799) people committed suicide in 2013.
- The male to female ratio of suicides was 67:33 but the proportion of boys’ to girls’ suicides went up from previous years.
- The major causes of suicides in the country were family problems (24 per cent) and illness (19.6 per cent), accounting for 43.6 per cent of all suicides in 2013.
- Economic and social problems were the main reasons for male suicides while personal and emotional issues led to female suicides.
The figures look even more alarming when pitched against a clock:
- 15 suicides occurred every hour in 2013
- 248 men committed suicide every day
- 121 women committed suicides every day
- 89 suicides occurred each day due to family issues
- 5 suicides per day due to poverty and 6 due to dowry dispute
- 7 suicides per day due to failure in examination
- 7 suicides a day due to bankruptcy
- 6 suicides a day due to unemployment
Suicide helpline – 022 2754 6669 (aasra)
“Accidental deaths and suicides in India 2013,” National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), https://ncrb.gov.in
“Depression on the rise, undetected,” Timesofindia.indiatimes.com, Pallavi Shahi, October 2, 2013, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/health/Depression-on-the-rise-undetected/articleshow/22461546.cms
“Cross-national epidemiology of DSM-IV major depressive episode,” BMC Medicine 2011, 9:90, doi:10.1186/1741-7015-9-90, https://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/9/90
Factsheet – Depression,” WHO.int, World Health Organisation, October 2012, https://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/
Grover S, Dutt A, Avasthi A. An overview of Indian research in depression. Indian J Psychiatry 2010;52, Suppl S3:178-88, https://www.indianjpsychiatry.org/text.asp?2010/52/7/178/69231
“India named world’s most depressed nation,” Independent.co.uk, Jeremy Lawrance, https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/india-named-worlds-most-depressed-nation-2325927.html
“Suicides in India,” NCRB.nic.in, National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) https://ncrb.nic.in/CD-ADSI-2012/suicides-11.pdf
image source – https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deepika_Padukone