Chennai: Depression, which is the leading cause of disability worldwide, is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease (WHO, 2017). Though known to be the second leading cause of death among those who fall in the age group ‘15 to 30’, it continues to remain a stigma. With this year’s World Health Day themed ‘Depression: Let’s Talk’, psychiatrists and counsellors urge doctors to join in the initiative of detecting depression among patients.
“If a suicide prone person has a genuine friend to talk to, many instances of suicide can be reduced. Even relieving a little amount of distress and angst of a depressed person can wean him away from suicide,” said Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar, founder, SNEHA — India’s premier suicide prevention centre.
“According to a World Health Organisation report on suicides, India has a very high incidence - 15 per 1,00,000 population and the southern states are high on the list with Tamil Nadu at 22 in 2015 and Puducherry 43 the same year,” she added.
Stating that most people have only mild to moderate depression, Dr V. Mohan of the Dr Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre, said, “Detection is the most important factor. Acceptance of the fact that an individual has depression is also essential, which is rare due to the stigma that goes along with it.”
Promoting the concept of ‘holistic health’ he added that it is the need of the hour. Doctors should broaden their horizon and get trained to detect depression among patients as well. “When patients come to our clinic, we use a simple questionnaire to screen them for depression. If they are found to have mild to moderate depression, we have counsellors to talk to them and give them general positive advice. However, if it is very severe, we immediately refer them to a psychiatrist who will put them on medication,” added the doctor.
As depression is not contagious and can be prevented, talking about it can be critical to bringing the condition out of the closet. “A better understanding of what it is, and how it can be prevented and treated, will help reduce the stigma around it and encourage people to seek help. A range of treatments, health professionals and services are available to help curb depression as well as provide information on what can be done,” said Dr Samir Parikh, Director, Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Hospital....