India is home to the largest number of depressed people in the world, according to the World Health Organisation.
“The total number of people living with depression in the world is 322 million. Nearly half of these people live in the South-East Asia Region and Western Pacific Region, reflecting the relatively larger populations of those two regions (which include India and China,” says the report. This year, the theme of the WHO’s 2017 World Health Day campaign is depression.
It’s a common mental disorder, characterised by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, loss of sleep or appetite, feelings of tiredness, and poor concentration. It can last for a long time and become recurrent, impairing one’s ability to work. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide. When it is not so severe, people can be treated without anti-depressants. If it is a case of moderate or severe depression, patients might require medication and professional talking treatments.
The WHO estimates that depression and anxiety lead to a global economic loss of $2 trillion every two years. That’s about the size of the Indian economy.
How can one spot and fight depression?
According to leading psychiatrist Prasad Shetty “Depression is a term which is used very loosely. There’s a difference between feeling depressed, having depression and having a depressive disorder. If tomorrow the stock market collapses, I will feel depressed, but that does not mean I’ve a depressive disorder.”
The cardinal symptoms of depression that one must look out for are a depressed mood coupled with a lack of interest in previously pleasurable activities, he told BloombergQuint.
The corporate workforce in India also suffers from depression and stress due to high-pressure work environments, according to Ninad Raje, director at Health Assure, a health services company that offers companies an employee assistance programme. He said, “People in corporate India are slowly but steadily warming up to the idea that they can reach out to experts for help.”
Such programmes are being adopted because employers have understood that human capital is key for their organisations. If that is negatively impacted because of depression or stress, it impacts their bottom line, top line and performance as well, he added.