Can depression affect my health?

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According to a recent study published in the September 8th issue of The Lancet by Somnath Chatterji, M.D., and colleagues of the WHO, depression was associated with the lowest health care scores world-wide. The study focused on an international group of patients ages 18 and older numbering 245,404. According to the findings, patients with depression had an average health score of 72.9. Patients with asthma angina, arthritis, or diabetes and no depression had mean heath scores of 80.3, 79.6, 79.3, and 78.9 in that order. Patients found to have the lowest scores were those that had some form of chronic illness coupled with depression.

This study highlights just how serious a health issue depression can be. Psychiatric conditions are sometimes seen as only affecting a person’s mind; as a result do psychiatric concerns sometimes take the back seat to physical ailments?

The following is an excerpt from MedpageToday that discusses the study:

In the World Health Survey of 245,404 patients ages 18 and older, from 60 countries in all regions of the world. respondents with depression had the lowest health score among all five chronic disease conditions, 72.9 (P<0.0001).

On the basis of interviews and self-reports, respondents with asthma, angina, arthritis, or diabetes alone had mean health scores of 80.3, 79.6, 79.3, and 78.9, respectively, significantly different from having no disease, but not from one another, Somnath Chatterji, M.D., of the WHO here, and colleagues, reported in the Sept. 8 issue of The Lancet.

Patients with depression plus even one chronic disease had the worst scores on a health survey, they added. Respondents with neither chronic disease nor depression had the highest health score of 90.6.

Depression prevalence was determined on the basis of ICD-10 criteria, while the prevalence for four chronic physical diseases-angina, arthritis, asthma, and diabetes-was estimated from a Diagnostic Item Probability Study. Overall, the rate of a depressive episode in the previous year was 3.2% (95% CI 3.0-3.5).

For angina, this figure was 4.5% (4.3-4.8); for arthritis 4.1% (3.8-4.3); for asthma 3.3% (2.9-3.6); and for diabetes 2.0% (1.8-2.2).

The depression risks for these chronic diseases were higher than that expected in the general population, the researchers said.

Click here to read the entire article from MedPageToday

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