In 2017, 197.3 million Indians, that's 14.3% of the total population were suffering from various mental disorders. Of these, 45.7 million had depression and 44.9 million had anxiety disorders, according to a new study published in the Lancet Psychiatry.
This is the first comprehensive estimate of disease burden due to mental disorders and their trends in every state of India from 1990 and was undertaken by India State-Level Disease Burden Initiative.
The study highlights how deep mental health issues are in a country the size of India. The contribution of mental disorders to the total disease burden has doubled between 1990 and 2017.
Mental Health Crisis Across States
The mental health disorders highlighted included depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, idiopathic developmental intellectual disability, conduct disorders, and autism.
Main highlights of the survey:
The prevalence of depression and anxiety disorders is relatively higher in the southern states and in females.
The prevalence of depression is highest in older adults, which has significant implications for the ageing population.
The prevalence of childhood onset mental disorders such as idiopathic developmental intellectual disability, conduct disorders, and autism is higher in the northern states but is decreasing across India.
The contribution of mental disorders to the total disease burden in India in terms of DALYs increased from 2.5% in 1990 to 4.7% in 2017.
Depression contributed 33.8% of all mental disorder DALYs in India in 2017, followed by anxiety disorders (19.0%), idiopathic developmental intellectual disability (10.8%), and schizophrenia (9.8%).
There was a significant association between the prevalence of depression and suicide death rate at the state level, with this association slightly stronger in females than in males.
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Highlighting the sheer scale of mental health crisis facing India and the task in front of policy makers, Dr Vinod Paul, Member, NITI Ayog had this to say,
He laid emphasis on community level interventions that state governments should focus on.
Prof Balram Bhargav, Director General, ICMR, added, "The insights provided by this study are important for titrating strategies for mental health improvement in each state. Given the significant contribution of mental disorders to the disease burden in India, further research should continue to track the changing trends of mental disorders in different parts of the country."