Connect with us

Mental Health

World Mental Health Day 2021: What Is Depression?

World Mental Health Day 2021: People who have gone through adverse life events like bereavement, psychological trauma are more likely to develop depression: WHO

हिन्दी में पढ़े
Mental Health Explained What Is Depression
  • Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide: WHO
  • Low levels of serotonin are linked to symptoms of depression: Dr Parikh
  • World Mental Health Day 2021 calls for 'Mental health in an unequal world'

New Delhi: Depression is a common mental disorder with over 280 million people of all ages, an estimated 3.8 per cent of the population suffering from it globally, as per the World Health Organization (WHO). It is expected that in the next ten years, depression will put more burden on nations than any other disease, as per World Bank. If we narrow down the focus to India, the last and the latest study available is “The Burden Of Mental Disorders Across The States Of India: The Global Burden Of Disease Study 1990 – 2017” which was published in The Lancet Psychiatry on December 20, 2019. As per the said study, in 2017, 197.3 million people were suffering from various mental disorders in India that is one in seven or 14.3 per cent of the population.

This World Mental Health Day, we speak to experts to understand what is depression, how it affects people across age groups and gender and its burden in India.

Also Read: Mental Health Explained: What Is Post-traumatic Stress Disorder?

The Burden Of Depression In India

Depression is the most common mental disorder in India with 45.7 million people suffering from it. The highest prevalence of depressive disorders has been observed in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Goa, and Telangana in the high Socio-demographic Index (SDI) state group; Andhra Pradesh in the middle SDI state group; and Odisha in the low SDI state group. A high prevalence of depressive disorders was seen in females (3.9 per cent) than males (2.7 per cent).

SDI is a composite indicator of development status, ranging from 0 to 1, and is a geometric mean of the values of the indices of lagdistributed per-capita income, mean education in people aged 15 years or older, and total fertility rate in people younger than 25 years.22 The states were categorised into three state groups on the basis of their SDI in 2017: low SDI (≤0·53), middle SDI (0·54–0·60), and high SDI (>0·60), said Dr Rajesh Sagar, first author of the said Lancet report, Professor of Psychiatry at AIIMS, New Delhi, and Chair, Global Burden of Disease (India)-mental health expert group.

The Lancet report also noted an increase in the contribution of mental disorders to the total DALYs (Disability-adjusted life years, which represents the loss of the equivalent of one year of full health) in India. DALYs for a disease or health condition are the sum of the years of life lost due to premature mortality (YLLs) and the years lived with a disability (YLDs) due to prevalent cases of the disease or health condition in a population.

Explaining the term DALYs with an example, Dr TS Anish, Associate Professor of Community Medicine, Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram, said,

A butterfly lives for 10 days. Let’s say, a butterfly dies of a disease on the seventh day. It’s a case of premature death so the DALY here will be 3 days. There is another disease that affects butterflies on the seventh day but doesn’t lead to mortality. Due to the particular disease, butterflies can’t fly so they are living but not fully. Here the remaining three days will be counted as days lived with a disability. In case of humans, it is counted as years lived with disability and calculated on the basis of the severity of the disease.

Also Read: Consultations For Anxiety, Depression, Gaming Addiction Doubled During COVID-19 Pandemic: Study

In 2017, depressive disorders contributed the most to the total mental disorders DALYs at 33.8 per cent. The same study highlighted the high prevalence of depressive disorders DALYs in females (38.6 per cent) than men (28.9 per cent).

As per, depressive disorder DALY in India for 2017 was 550.17 per 1 lakh population as opposed to 515.49 in 1990. If we compare this figure with the world, depressive disorder DALY for 2017 was 564.10 and 523.70 in 1990.

Understanding Depression

Explaining the term ‘depression’, Dr Samir Parikh, Director of the Fortis National Mental Health Program at Fortis Healthcare, said that it needs to be looked at as any other medical condition like diabetes, typhoid, or COVID-19. Until we don’t accept depression as a medical problem there is no other way to understand and address it, he said.

Just like low levels of insulin cause diabetes, low levels of serotonin are linked to the symptoms of depression. There are certain neurotransmitters, chemical messengers in the body, serotonin being one of them. These neurotransmitters help in transmitting messages. We don’t know what causes a reduction in serotonin, said Dr Parikh.

Also Read: Each COVID-19 Surge Poses A Risk For Healthcare Workers: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Signs And Symptoms Of Depression

Some of the signs that can help in identifying depression, according to Dr Parikh are:

• Sadness of mood
• Loss of interest
• Feeling low, sad or upset
• Sleep may be getting affected
• Having thoughts of hopelessness, helplessness and being worthless
• One might feel fatigued
• Have concentration issues
• Feel life is a burden

If today you are feeling sad about something and tomorrow you are fine, then that’s not depression. The word depression has become a part of our English language as a result of which we end up using it loosely. Instead of saying, ‘I am feeling low’, we say, ‘I am depressed’. Medically, it is incorrect. If few or all of the above-mentioned symptoms are present for two weeks or more and are causing impairment in functioning then we classify it as a case of depression, said Dr Parikh.

Also Read: Impact Of COVID-19 On The Mental Health Of Children And How Parents Can Help Them

Causes And Treatment Of Depression

The three factors that contribute to depression are biological, psychological and social. As per WHO, people who have gone through adverse life events like unemployment, bereavement, psychological trauma are more likely to develop depression. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide.

If the contributing factor is biological, we resort to medicines for treatment. If it’s psychological then therapy is recommended whereas if it’s social then we ask the family and friends to provide all kinds of support and create a positive environment for the person, explains Dr Parikh.

Can Yoga Help In Treating Depression?

Dr Parikh believes that activities like yoga, meditation, practising art, and spending time with nature are the kinds of activities that are healthy for everyone and always have an impact on the quality of life. But to say that these are treatments will be incorrect. These activities are to be accompanied by medicines and therapy, depending on the case.

Depression: Myth Busters

Remember, the treatment for depression is not life-long; medicines are not addictive; you won’t get dependent on a therapist for your life; talking to a friend is not like talking to a therapist, said Dr Parikh.

Also Read: How To Ensure Emotional And Mental Well-being During COVID-19? Expert Answers

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.

If you need support or know someone who does, please reach out to your nearest mental health specialist. Helplines:

AASRA: 91-9820466726 (24 hours)
Sneha Foundation: 91-44-24640050 (Available from 10am to 10pm)
Vandrevala Foundation for Mental Health: 9999666555 (24 hours)
iCall: 022-25521111 (Available from Monday to Saturday: 8:00am to 10:00pm)
Connecting NGO: 9922004305 | 9922001122 (Available from 12 pm – 8 pm)

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity,  that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India. 


Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 24,24,98,327 and 49,29,776 have died; 20,40,54,102 are active cases and 3,35,14,449 have recovered as on October 22, 2021 at 5:24 am.


3,41,43,236 15,786Cases
3,35,14,449 18,641Recovered
4,53,042 231Deaths
In India, there are 3,41,43,236 confirmed cases including 4,53,042 deaths. The number of active cases is 1,75,745 and 3,35,14,449 have recovered as on October 22, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths

65,98,218 1,573

27,899 1,434

64,30,394 2,968

1,39,925 39


48,88,523 8,733

82,093 1,240

47,79,228 9,855

27,202 118


29,84,849 365

9,017 86

29,37,848 443

37,984 8

Tamil Nadu

26,91,797 1,164

13,790 268

26,42,039 1,412

35,968 20

Andhra Pradesh

20,62,303 493

5,500 66

20,42,476 552

14,327 7

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,068 10

107 5

16,87,062 14

22,899 1

West Bengal

15,83,646 833

7,535 44

15,57,090 775

19,021 14


14,39,488 22

311 1

14,14,087 21



10,37,056 524

4,336 51

10,24,422 573

8,298 2


10,05,773 38

206 21

9,91,995 16

13,572 1


9,54,395 2

36 2

9,45,405 4



8,26,353 13

156 20

8,16,110 33


Madhya Pradesh

7,92,721 12

88 6

7,82,110 6



7,71,125 9

131 2

7,60,945 11



7,26,042 6

30 0

7,16,351 6



6,69,739 183

3,967 1

6,61,829 183

3,943 1


6,07,811 384

3,762 152

5,98,087 228

5,962 4


6,02,135 22

226 6

5,85,358 27

16,551 1


3,48,526 40

166 24

3,43,225 16



3,43,787 14

176 0

3,36,213 14


Jammu And Kashmir

3,31,386 87

814 14

3,26,143 73


Himachal Pradesh

2,22,138 202

1,452 58

2,16,955 140

3,731 4


1,77,765 59

618 21

1,73,790 35

3,357 3


1,27,564 43

454 7

1,25,258 50



1,23,051 81

1,346 14

1,19,800 94

1,905 1


1,15,944 737

10,034 229

1,05,510 962

400 4


84,369 18

105 10

83,448 8



83,210 52

735 26

81,034 76

1,441 2


65,315 3

26 2

64,469 1


Arunachal Pradesh

55,065 22

140 2

54,645 20



31,819 19

185 10

31,241 9



31,670 11

250 5

30,743 15

677 1


20,896 10

43 9

20,645 1


Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,678 2

4 2





0 0



Andaman And Nicobar Islands


7 0



Coronavirus Outbreak: Full CoverageTesting CentresFAQs

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Highlights From The 12-Hour Telethon

Leaving No One Behind

Mental Health


Join Us