Indian Journal of PsychiatryIndian Journal of Psychiatry
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Year : 2005  |  Volume : 47  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 15-20

Social origins, biological treatments: The public health implications of common mental disorders in India

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK

Correspondence Address:
Vikram Patel
Sangath, 841/1 Alto-Porvorim, Goa 403521, India

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0019-5545.46068

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Common mental disorders (CMD) is a term used to describe depressive and anxiety disorders. It replaces the old term 'neuroses' and is widely used because of the high level of co-morbidity of depression and anxiety, which limits the validity of categorical models of classification of neurotic disorders, particularly in primary care settings. The global public health significance of CMD is highlighted by the fact that in developing countries, depression is the leading cause of years lived with disability in both men and women aged 15-44 years. This oration brings together research evidence, mostly from South Asia, to show that although the aetiology of CMD may lie in the socioeconomic circumstances faced by many patients, biological treatments such as antidepressants may be among the most cost-effective treatments in resource-poor settings. The oration demonstrates the public health implications of CMD by briefly reviewing the burden of CMD in the region and presents evidence linking the risk for CMD associated with two of the region's most important public health risk factors-poverty and gender disadvantage. The oration also presents recent evidence to establish the association of CMD with some of the region's most important public health issues: maternal and child health; and reproductive and sexual health. Next, the evidence for the efficacy of treatments for CMD in developing countries is presented, focusing on a series of recent trials that show that both psychosocial and biological treatments are effective. Finally, the implications for policy and future research are considered.



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