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Majority of TB patients battle depression in Kashmir: Study


Srinagar, Feb 29: Social stigma associated with tuberculosis is fueling depression and anxiety among the patients in Kashmir, a new study has revealed.
Entitled, “A Prospective Study on Patterns of Psychiatric Morbidity in Patients with Pulmonary Tuberculosis”, the 2019 study was published in The Indian Journal of Chest Diseases and Allied Sciences.
Authored by Dr. Shabir Ahmad Dar, Dr. Zaid Ahmad Wani, Dr. Mushtaq Margoob, Dr. Naved Nazir Shah, Dr.Bilal Ahmad Bhat, and Dr. Yasir Hassan Rather of the Department of Psychiatry and Chest Medicine, Government Medical College, Srinagar, the study was aimed at finding an association between tuberculosis (TB) and common mental disorders.
Around 198 patients suffering from TB were studied for the research project. According to the study, 62.1% of patients with tuberculosis were diagnosed with mental health disorders.
“Around 40.9% suffered from common morbid psychiatric disorder followed by panic disorder 12.6%, agoraphobia 2.5%, and generalized anxiety disorder 2%,” the study revealed.
The majority of patients’ studied for the research were in the younger age group.
“The patients have to face social rejection and isolation because they are considered to be a source of infection for healthy individuals. This kind of behavior harms their mental health,” the study revealed.
The study has pointed out that given the high incidence of mental health disorders associated with TB, there is enough scope for psychiatric services to be made available for the patients.
“Besides, personnel involved in the treatment of these patients should be trained for early detection of psychiatric symptoms for better treatment outcomes,” the study said.
Dr. Junaid Nabi, Consultant Psychiatrist at Psychiatric Hospital, Rainawari said depression is one of the challenges that TB patients in the valley often deal with.
“Adolescents are more vulnerable to depression than adults. They are already in a ‘transition period’ in their lives, emotionally and physically. Dealing with a disease as long-drawn as TB is overwhelming. The anti-TB medicines, which are to be taken for six months, also affect the appetite and mood,” he said.
Dr. Junaid said the parents of children with TB are usually focused on curing the disease and they often miss out on the symptoms of emotional distress.
The doctor noted that weight loss and changes in skin color caused by medicines often bother patients.
“Chest physicians actively need to look for patients who are emotionally stressed by these issues and refer them to counselors. We also ask parents to look for symptoms where they socially withdraw themselves,” he said.