Act 6.1 Economic inequality and depression in India- Juwon Park

There are many social determinants that contribute to the number of depression cases in India, especially Indian women, such as certain economic factors. Depression can affect relationships, careers, social lives, physiology, and self perceptions (Bohra 2015). It is estimated that by 2020, depression will become the second leading cause of disability in the world. Therefore, it is important to receive proper medical attention, awareness, and support in order to prevent this prediction.

Certain populations in India, especially in areas dense with women, are less likely to be treated for mental illnesses that result from the effects of stress because they often go unreported or are not noticed (Bohra 2015). These signs of depression can even affect the body physiologically, such as through the reproductive cycle. Depression, which occurs two to three times more likely in females, has disparities in the type of treatment that dependent on economic advantages of certain geographical locations. For example, there have been higher rates of untreated depression in rural area compared to urban areas (Bohra 2015). A reason for this disparity is the lack of proper quality and quantity of mental health care providers who are trained to treat mental illnesses and the lack of awareness of mental health issues in rural areas. Approximately 20% of people who seek health care are not diagnosed with mental illnesses because the symptoms often go unnoticed. In addition, more than half of the households in India are in poverty or have had to choose between necessities because of the high costs of medical care (Balarajan 2011). This comes to roughly 39 million Indians falling into poverty each year.

The conditions of household relationships also affect the number of depressed cases reported. For this post, I will be focusing on domestic violence in the household and the effects it has on the female population in India. While it may not seem like it at first, this is also influenced by the economic factors. According to Mathur, women who are wealthier are less likely to experience domestic violence (Mathur 2013). A majority of the women in India are not born into wealthy families and therefore are viewed as submissive to their husbands. A lot of the stress that women face comes from living in a patriarchal society where men believe that it is acceptable to abuse a female due to this reasoning.  While there are certain policies that protect a woman from their abusive spouse, such as the Protection of Women from Domestic Act in 2005, it is not enforced most of the time because of the lack of law officials that work for the public (International Center for Research on Women 2009). As a result, children are growing up in a household where they see this type of behavior and believe that it is acceptable. This grows to be a continuous cycle where more women are becoming depressed and are less likely to receive accurate diagnosis and treatment of their mental health problems because of the economic disparity.


Works Cited:

Balarajan, Yarlini, Selvaraj S, Subramanian SV “Health care and equity in India” Lancet 2011 May 12

Bohra, Neena. Srivastava, Shruti, Bhatia MS “Depression in women in Indian context” Indian Journal of Psychology 2015 Jul; 57 (suppl 2) S239-S245

International Center for Research on Women “Assessing India’s Domestic Violence Laws” 2009

Mathur, Aparna “Escaping domestic violence: empowering women through employment, earnings and wealth in India” American Enterprise Institute -2013


One thought on “Act 6.1 Economic inequality and depression in India- Juwon Park

  1. Hi Juwon,

    I also chose to look at woman’s health in India, I chose to examine diabetes, but it is amazing how similar the issues facing women with diabetes are to the issues woman with depression face. Similarly, women with diabetes will often have their symptoms go unchecked, or all together undiagnosed. As you say, costs also do not help, being that many women in poverty lack the resources to pursue medical care as they must prioritize their spending for the greater family survival, as women so commonly do. While I have been aware of the large spread issue of domestic violence all over the world, I found your description of what societal norms contribute to this violence very enlightening and succinct. It is upsetting to hear that the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act from 2005 is still not enforced almost a decade later. Legislation does not do much good if it is just words on a page and is not enacted.

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