One in 20 Indians suffers from depression

Indians popped more antidepressants in 2016 than ever before, indicating perhaps that they are now more open to the idea of seeking help for mental health problems.

Around 10.6 lakh more prescriptions for anti-depressants were written in 2016 than in 2015, shows data collated by health information agencies. While 3.35 crore prescriptions (for new patients) were written in 2015, doctors wrote 3.46 crore new prescriptions in 2016. The number of prescriptions written out only by psychiatrists in 2016 represented a 14% rise over 2015.

Psychiatrists treat patients with major depressive disorders while doctors from multiple specialties treat patients with mild or disease-related depression. Depression, though widely spread in India, is rarely given importance in the public health system, which is burdened by infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and dengue as well as noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

In October 2016, the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in Bengaluru released a mental health survey that said one in every 20 Indians suffered from some form of depression. The prevalence of depression across the world has increased to such an extent that it’s the theme for the World Health Organisation’s World Health Day on April 7.