Around 50% of the patients who come to the PGI for treatment of depression leave the medication midway. According to the data provided by the department of psychiatry, PGI, the institute receives 8,000-9,000 patients every year, out of which 30% are diagnosed with depression.
"The biggest challenge is that most of these patients do not come for follow-ups after getting symptomatic treatment. So it often leads to relapse," said Dr Ajit Awasthi, a professor in the psychiatry department.
He said the foremost requirement for patients of depression was treatment for an extended period. "The patients should neither stop the treatment after getting some symptomatic relief nor experiment with the dosage," he cautioned.
The data compiled by the department reveals an increase in prevalence of affective disorders, including depression, from 2% to 13.5% in children attended to in the psychiatry OPD over the past one decade. Dr Awasthi said depression seemed to be more common among poor people, women and those with insufficient social support. "Patients of depression in India tend to have more physical symptoms and fewer psychological problems. Because of this reason, the symptoms many people undergoing depression suffer from are not diagnosed and they do not get the right treatment," he said.
Dr Awasthi said that going by community-based studies in India, the prevalence of depression was 9 per thousand in rural areas and double this number in urban areas. Studies have also brought out that 30-40% of all patients coming to primary care clinics suffer from depression and the prevalence of depression in elderly patients suffering from physical ailments is more than 60%.
Given to alcohol
Experts say patients of depression often take to intoxicants, alcohol being the most common one. "It becomes a vicious circle," said Dr D Basu, a professor with the PGI psychiatry department.
Women more prone
Experts point out that depression is more common among women. "This is not due to biological reasons, but due to the disadvantaged position of women in the society. Women undergo more stress in their daily life," said Dr Savita Malhotra, head, department of psychiatry, PGI.