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Depression and anxiety in people affected by leprosy and lymphatic filariasis: a cross-sectional study in four States in India

Individual studies reported high levels of depression and anxiety among people affected with leprosy and lymphatic filariasis (LF), but they are often too small for a reliable comparison of prevalence mental ill health or its risk. The current study explores prevalence and risk factors of depression and anxiety within a large programme of a non-governmental organisation in India.

In a cross-sectional survey, we administered face-to-face Washington Group extended questions for Mental Health among leprosy and LF beneficiaries entering Lepra’s programmes in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh (N = 3706). Data were also gathered on risk factors widely reported in the literature, such as gender, age, caste, income, occupation, exclusion, disability and marital status.

Around 50% of people affected with leprosy or LF reported experiences of depression and anxiety. Disability was found to be the main contributing factor for depression and anxiety, with exclusion, income, gender and age having a lower effect.

The study confirms that mental ill health is a significant burden associated with leprosy and LF and that the mental health care needs of this population should be streamlined into the existing health and social services, and tailored according to disability status, age, marital status gender, income levels and taking into account experiences of discrimination. Current momentum for joint efforts to address skin NTDs presents a window of opportunity.

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Journal Article
Mangeard-Lourme J
Robert de Arquer G
Parasa J
Singh RK
Satle N
Mamhidi R