Self-harm top health problem in Indian men

Depression biggest issue for women, says new study

Self-harm top health problem in Indian men

Self-harm caused by mental trauma triggering a large number of suicide and suicide attempts, has emerged as the most serious health problem for Indian men in the last two decades, suggests a new study, underlining the spread of mental illness.

The men are not alone with serious mental problems. For Indian women, “depressive disorders” is the second biggest causes of morbidity between 1990 and 2013, says the study that analysed more than 300 causes of diseases.

Taken together, the research – published in the Lancet - is a clear indication of how mental health issues are beginning to eclipse the traditional Indian health problems like malaria, tuberculosis, diarrhoea and pre-term birth.

For Indian men, the fastest-growing cause of health loss between 1990 and 2013 was self-harm that grew by 150 per cent, according to the new Global Burden of Disease report that analyses two common health indicators known as DALY (disability adjusted life years) and HALE (healthy life expectancy) from 188 countries.

“This is a very serious issue for a democracy like India. In another high population country like China, the number of self harm cases is going down,” Novojit Roy, professor at Bhabha Atomic Research Hospital, Mumbai and one of the co-authors of the study told Deccan Herald.

Increased risk of suicide

According to the medical literature, self harm is as an act with a non-fatal outcome in which an individual deliberately initiates behaviour which causes bodily injury. It is an indicator of underlying psychosocial problems and there is an increased risk of suicidal behaviour in later life for those who commit self-harm.

“A person is not killed in self-harm or depression, but the quality of life is adversely affected. The morbidity from mental health is very high. It is an invisible epidemic,” he said.

Suicide is known as one of the biggest killers in India. But the steady rise in the number of self-harm cases is worrying the researchers as the victims are left with mental scars and many a times with long-term physical injuries.

Self-harm is followed by ischemic heart diseases and cerebrovascular disease (brain stroke) that increased by 80 and 60 per cent respectively for men. For the fairer sex, the biggest increase was seen in the number of ischemic heart disease cases followed by depression between 1990 and 2013.

The study also demonstrates that life expectancy increased by 6.9 years for men and 10.3 years for women in the same period. But increase in healthy life expectancy is low — men gained 6.4 years and women 8.9 years. On an average, women live longer (68.5 years) than man (64.2 years).

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