Depression and chronic illness
> 12/20/2005 2:39:44 PM

A study in New Mexico found certain adverse health risk behaviors and health conditions are more common among persons with depression than among persons without depression, underscoring the importance of considering mental health in the prevention and treatment of chronic illnesses.

The findings in this report corroborate the correlation between depression and chronic diseases and conditions determined by previous studies and thus suggest that the assessment and treatment of depression can help to improve the overall health of a population.

Although depressive disorders can be treated successfully, data ranging from the Epidemiologic Catchment Area program in the early 1980s to those collected by the 2002 National Health Interview Survey indicated that most persons needing treatment for mental illness did not receive treatment. Barriers to treatment include the stigma associated with depression, lack of knowledge about depression, and lack of adequate insurance coverage. Persons with depression, particularly those who also have a physical health condition, might seek treatment from various types of health-care professionals (e.g., general practitioners) other than psychiatrists, psychologists, or psychiatric social workers.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening adults for depression in clinical practices if systems exist to ensure accurate diagnosis, effective treatment, and follow-up.

Excerpts from The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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