New Delhi: Ever since the pandemic hit India over five months back, followed by an unprecedented lockdown, stress levels have been on the rise with 43 percent 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 percent of respondents were suffering from mild depression, 11 percent were feeling moderately depressed, and six percent 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 percent 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 a 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 percent of the population said they had little pleasure in doing things these days, out of which 38 percent have this feeling on a few days and 9 percent feel so more than half of the days. Nearly 12 percent felt this way almost every day in these times, the study said.

It pointed out that more than 57 percent 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 percent 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 percent of the population goes through this nearly every day while 33 percent experience it on a few days," it added.

Feeling hopeless, on the other hand, was not so common among the respondents. Only 10 percent of them said they felt "down and depressed" more than half of the days or nearly every day.

The study suggested that adding exercise 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.

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New Delhi, May 13: The dialer tune message of the Centre asking people to get vaccinated was criticised by the Delhi High Court which on Thursday said the "irritating" message was being played for "we don't know how long" asking people to get the jab when there was not enough vaccine.

"You have been playing that one irritating message on the phone whenever one makes a call, for we do not know how long, that you (people) should have the vaccination, when you (Centre) don't have enough vaccine.

"You are not vaccinating people, but you still say that vaccination lagavaiye (get vaccinated). Kaun lagayega vaccination (who will get vaccinated), when there is no vaccination. What is the point of the message," a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said.

"You should give it to everyone. Even if you are going to take money, give it. That is what even children are saying," the bench said and added that the government needs to be "innovative" in such things.

The court said that the government should prepare more such messages instead of preparing just one and running it always.

"Till like a tape it stops running or starts skipping, you will run it for 10 years," it said.

The bench said the government, state or Centre, have to react to the situation on the ground.

"So please have more of them (dialer messages). When a person hears a different one every time, maybe it will help him/her," the court said.

It also suggested using TV anchors or producers to create programmes, on making people aware about use of oxygen concentrators and cylinders or on vaccination, of short durations which can be aired on all channels.

It also said that celebs like Amitabh Bachchan can be asked to chip in and that all this "needs to be done soon".

The court said that a lot of "publicity and propaganda" was there last year on washing of hands regularly and wearing of masks and now there should be similar audio-visual initiatives on use of oxygen, concentrators, medications, etc.

"We are losing time. There should be a sense of urgency," the bench said and directed the Centre and Delhi government to file their reports by May 18 on what steps they are going to take for disseminating information on COVID management via print and TV media and also dialer tunes.