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Lack of awareness causes mental illness in over 6% Indians

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New Delhi: Union Health Minister JP Nadda on Tuesday presented stats in Rajya Sabha mentioning that over six percent of Indian citizens had a mental illness like schizophrenia and bipolar disorders due to lack of awareness. The National Commission on Macroeconomics and Health had conducted an assessment back in 2005, which revealed that approximately 75 million people in India had mental disorders like stress, depression and anxiety.

“In 2005, the National Commission on Macroeconomics and Health reported that 10-20 million (1-2 percent of population) suffered from severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and nearly 50 million (5 percent of the population) from common mental disorders such as depression and anxiety, yielding an overall estimate of 6.5 percent of the population,” the Union Minister wrote to Rajya Sabha, according to a newspaper.

Though, the Union Minister mentioned that the data was examined in 2015, thus, a possibility of change in figures must be there due to changed lifestyle. He also gave the reasoning for the high ratio saying that the lack of awareness of symptoms of mental disorder is one of the biggest problems. The majority of the people suffering from mental disorders in India are unaware of them suffering from such illness.

There is a need to make people alert about such disorders and also treat patients suffering from it. Nadda mentioned that institutes and hospitals which treat such patients can be helpful. There are three centrally-run mental health institutes, 40 state-run medical hospitals and 398 departments of psychiatry in various medical colleges (183 in government and 215 in private) in rural and urban areas. Adding to the list, he also listed District Mental Health Programme (DMHP) (in 241 districts in all the 36 states/UTs) has been started by the government to treat mentally ill citizens. The DMHP offers help in school, workplace and also gives counselling on suicide prevention etc.

Moreover, common apprehensions of the illness are said to be emptiness or feeling sad or anxious, feeling hopeless or negative, irritability or restlessness, lack of interest in hobbies and other activities, loss of appetite and hallucinations in the case of schizophrenia. If one seems to have similar symptoms then there are chances one suffering from mental disorder and should consult a doctor.

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Meditation Helps Veterans Well With PTSD: Study

Meditation could be more acceptable to veterans who might associate mental health treatment with weakness.

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Veterans, PTSD, Afghan. Taliban
A U.S soldier patrols at night in Khost province, Afghanistan, seen through night vision equipment. About 400,000 veterans had a PTSD diagnosis in 2013, according to the Veterans Affairs health system. VOA

Meditation worked as well as traditional therapy for military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder in a small experiment sponsored by the Department of Defense.

One method preferred by the Department of Veterans Affairs is exposure therapy, but it doesn’t work for everyone and many can’t handle what it requires: purposely recalling traumatic events and confronting emotions.

Meditation could be a better choice for some, the researchers said.

Exposure therapy unpopular

The experiment tested meditation against exposure therapy, which involves working with a therapist and gradually letting go of fears triggered by painful memories.

PTSD
There’s growing interest in meditation in the United States.

Many vets won’t try exposure therapy or drop out because it’s too difficult, said Thomas Rutledge, the study’s senior author and a Veterans Affairs psychologist in San Diego.

Evidence for meditation “allows us to put more options on the table” with confidence they work, Rutledge said.

The study was published Thursday in the journal Lancet Psychiatry.

Follow-up study needed

About 400,000 veterans had a PTSD diagnosis in 2013, according to the VA health system. The VA already is using meditation, yoga and similar approaches to supplement traditional therapy with PTSD, said Paula Schnurr, executive director of the VA’s National Center for PTSD.

While the three-month study adds to evidence supporting these lifestyle practices, Schnurr said, more research is needed to learn how long meditation’s benefits last.

Stress, meditation, PTSD
Meditation can boost emotional intelligence, cut stress at workplace. Pixabay

“There’s no follow-up in this study,” Schnurr noted, and one therapist did 80 percent of the exposure therapy so the findings hinge largely on one therapist’s skills.

Researchers measured symptoms in about 200 San Diego area veterans randomly assigned to one of three groups. Some learned to meditate. Others got exposure therapy. The third group attended classes where they learned about nutrition and exercise.

All sessions were once a week for 90 minutes.

After three months, 61 percent of the meditation group improved on a standard PTSD assessment, compared to 42 percent of those who got exposure therapy and 32 percent of those who went to classes. When researchers accounted for other factors, meditation was better than the classes and equally effective as exposure therapy.

The researchers defined success as at least a 10-point improvement in scores on a standard symptoms test, given to participants by people who did not know which kind of treatment they’d received. The test measures symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares and insomnia.

 

CyclingStress, meditation, PTSD
Cycling, walking in nature may improve your mental health. Pixabay

 

PTSD also can be treated with medications or other types of talk therapy. Many of the participants were taking prescribed medicine for PTSD.

Most of the vets were men with combat-related trauma, so it’s not clear whether meditation would be equally effective in women or with other types of trauma.

More interest, styles

There’s growing interest in meditation in the United States. A government survey last year found 14 percent of adults said they had recently meditated, up from 4 percent from a similar survey five years earlier.

There are many styles of meditation. The type taught to vets in the study was transcendental meditation, or TM, which involves thinking of a mantra or sound to settle the mind.

TM was developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a guru to the Beatles in the late 1960s. Some of the study authors are affiliated with a university in Fairfield, Iowa, founded by Maharishi. Their role was to oversee the meditation training.

Also Read: 2 War-Stricken Towns in Somalia Finally Receive Health Care: UN

Rutledge, who was the principal researcher, said he does not practice meditation himself.

Meditation could be more acceptable to veterans who might associate mental health treatment with weakness, Rutledge said.

“It’s probably less threatening,” he said. “It may be easier to talk to veterans about participating in something like meditation.” (VOA)