Ever since the pandemic hit India over five months back, followed by an unprecedented lockdown, stress levels have been on the rise with 43 per cent Indians suffering from depression, according to a new study.
Conducted by GOQii, a smart-tech enabled preventive healthcare platform, the study surveyed over 10,000 Indians to understand how they have been coping with the new normal.
According to the study, 26 per cent respondents were suffering from mild depression, 11 per cent were feeling moderately depressed, and six per cent were facing severe symptoms of depression.
“The last five months have been unexpected. The situation has taken a major toll on the mental health of citizens. With the series of lockdowns, anxiety, job cuts, health scares, and the overall volatile environment, stress levels are at an all-time high.
“Copious amounts of stress can lead to depression. With the current lockdown and lifestyles drastically changing, we have seen that 43 per cent of Indians are currently plagued with depression and are learning to cope with it,” the study said.
To monitor the severity of depression in the respondents, the study relied on self-administered Patient Health Questionnaire or PHQ-9 (a form of primary care evaluation of mental disorders).
It took into account nine aspects of an individual’s daily routine, including interest levels in activities, appetite, sleep cycles, ability to concentrate, and energy levels.
“Our study indicates that an increasing number of people across the country are dealing with mental health issues triggered by the spread of the coronavirus and the consequent lockdown.
“The mounting uncertainty is the basis of the high stress index which can be controlled with a balanced diet, changes in lifestyle and appropriate sleep patterns,” said Vishal Gondal, Founder and CEO, GOQii.
Those feeling depressed complained of having little interest or pleasure in doing things, feeling hopeless, dealing with erratic sleep cycles, poor eating habits, low levels of energy, low self esteem, having trouble concentrating, being restless, and having thoughts of self harm.
“More than 59 per cent of the population said they had little pleasure in doing things these days, out of which 38 per cent have this feeling on a few days and 9 per cent feel so more than half of the days. Nearly 12 per cent felt this way almost every day in these times,” the study said.
It pointed out that more than 57 per cent of the respondents complained of feeling tired or having little energy through “at least some days in the last few weeks”. “At least more than 15 per cent have this feeling more than half of the days. This leads to some people sleeping too much while some others have trouble sleeping.
“With the change in lifestyle, approximately half of the population is having trouble with their sleep,” the study said. “At least 7 per cent of the population goes through this nearly every day while 33 per cent experience it on a few days,” it added.
Feeling hopeless, on the other hand, was not so common among the respondents. Only 10 per cent of them said they felt “down and depressed” more than half of the days or nearly every day.
The study suggested that adding exercising to one’s daily routine could help improve their mental health. “Exercising can lead to endorphins (the happy hormone) which can help with depression. The more depressed you are, the more likely you are to not workout. “But, it is important to cajole yourself into doing more things that make you feel happier,” it said.