Approximately 23% of adults seeking medical help suffer from psychiatric disorders. One-third of the adolescent population have the same problem, as do about a quarter of children aged between 7-12 years.
Across all age groups people visiting doctors with unspecific physical symptoms are often found to be suffering from psychiatric disorders. Anxiety disorders are most frequent followed by symptoms arising from misuse of alcohol and drugs. Mood disorders (depression and bipolar disorders) come next, while cases of obsessional disorders and schizophrenia, though still rare, are alarmingly on the rise. Dementia and other cognitive disorders are also becoming a part of our life with increasing age of survival and rising levels of stress.
It affects about 10 to 15% of the population in a lifetime. It is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide and as projected by the WHO is set to become the second leading cause of disability after heart disease by 2020. Depression and medical illness co-exist and frequently complicate each other. Depression increases the morbidity and mortality associated with other physical illnesses (cardiac, neurological and others) if not treated adequately. Suicide was the 11th leading cause of death in US in 2004, a situation, unfortunately likely to be replicated soon the world over, including in India.