“Increase in depressive and anxiety disorders during the pandemic”: study


The prevalence of major depressive and anxiety disorders has increased dramatically due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a new study published in The Lancet has revealed.

Overall, the burden of these disorders had increased by 28% and 26% respectively. In India, depressive and anxiety disorders both saw a 35% increase, the study noted. He also pointed out that women and young people were the most affected, and that cases were higher in areas where Covid-19 infection rates were higher and mobility reduced due to strict lockdowns.

The first global estimate of this type on mental health, the study was carried out using a disease modeling meta-analysis tool. This is a systematic review of the literature that examined data sources from over 204 countries published between January 1, 2020 and January 29, 2021.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), major depressive disorder involves symptoms such as depressed mood, loss of interest and pleasure, and decreased energy. Depending on the number and severity of symptoms, a depressive episode can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe. WHO defines anxiety disorders as a group of mental disorders characterized by feelings of anxiety and fear, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, phobias, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

If the Covid pandemic had not hit the world, there would have been 193 million cases (2,471 cases per lakh of population) of major depressive disorder and 298 million cases (3,825 cases per lakh) of anxiety disorders in the world in 2020, the study authors estimated. But those numbers have reached 246 million cases (3,153 cases per lakh) and 374 million cases (4,802 cases per lakh) respectively due to the pandemic, meaning the world has seen nearly 53 million more cases. of major depressive disorder and an additional 76 million. cases of anxiety disorders.

In India, the non-pandemic estimates were 2,577 cases of major depressive disorder per lakh population and 3,013 cases of anxiety disorders per lakh population. However, due to the pandemic, the prevalence of major depressive disorder has increased to 3,478 cases per lakh and anxiety disorders to 4,063 cases per lakh of population.

“Covid-19 has brought mental health issues to the fore,” said Mumbai-based psychiatrist Dr Kersi Chavda. “As people were suddenly stuck at home, many symptoms that otherwise would not have been diagnosed were detected. We have noticed an increase in OCD as well as aggression. There have been many cases of child abuse, domestic violence and even abuse of elderly people who were at home.

According to Chavda, the government’s relaxation of teleconsultation rules has been a positive development as it has allowed many people to seek help through virtual consultations.

Kolkata-based psychiatrist Dr Gautam Saha, who is the president of the Indian Society of Psychiatry (IPS), said that the uncertainty and limited knowledge about Covid-19 during the first few months, the financial crisis due to the loss of jobs and wage cuts, the loneliness and disconnection triggered by the lockdown, has resulted in an explosion of mental health issues. “A survey conducted by IPS showed that almost 10% of the population suffered from depression and 38% suffered from anxiety disorders and that a large number of people experienced moderate to severe stress during the first wave,” said Saha. “Promoting mental well-being, targeting factors contributing to poor mental health that have been made worse by the pandemic, and improving treatment for people who develop mental disorders should be at the heart of efforts to improve services. support, ”lead author Dr Damian Santomauro, of the Queensland Center for Mental Health Research, School of Public Health, University of Queensland, Australia, said.

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