Stress is winning. As the economy booms and middle-class affluence grows, Indians are becoming forgetful and sleep-deprived. Our bodies are crumbling under the pressure of progress, says a World Health Organisation (WHO) report released last week, based on a survey conducted in six states.
The states were chosen from different regions — Maharashtra in the west, Karnataka in the south, West Bengal in the east, Assam to represent the Northeast, and Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh in the north.
The study was an initial marker to assess the need for more extensive studies later. Commissioned in 2003 as part of a world health survey, it set out to find out how stressful life is in India.
The results showed that more than 47 per cent of the respondents suffered from clinical anxiety, an equal number were depressed. Sleeplessness and memory disorders affected more than 34 per cent and 44 per cent respectively. Overall 40 per cent felt jaded and fatigued, 30 per cent had relationship conflicts, and more than 58 per cent suffered from stress-related bodyache.
The Indian Institute of Population Sciences (IIPS) carried out the fieldwork in India and submitted its report to the WHO in July 2006. "These factors collectively were contributing to most health hazards,” said P Arokiaswami, an IIPS investigator.
IIPS director PN Mari Bhat said the study was aimed at effecting policy changes and guiding health programmes. "We hope this helps develop the right health policy interventions," Bhat said.