Depression is a Devastating Disease That Needs to be Treated

Craig Stoltz Health Guide
  • Two studies crawled across the health newswire in the past few days that vividly illustrate a key message about depression that's often overlooked or marginalized by the health care system:


    Depression is a devastating disease that needs to be treated.


    Let's look at these two dots and connect them.


    Dot No. 1: A new study demonstrates that depression has a more powerful negative effect on total health than four often disabling chronic conditions: angina (chest pain related to heart disease), arthritis, asthma and diabetes. [An abstract of the report is available at the website of The Lancet; free registration required].

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    The study is a complex analysis of worldwide data, but after crunching all the numbers the researchers conclude that having depression along with any of the other conditions decreases total health more than any of them alone, or than any combination of the diseases without depression.


    Translation: It's worse to have (for example) depression than diabetes, and it's worse to have depression and arthritis than it is to have angina, diabetes, asthma and arthritis together. 


    "If you live for one year with diabetes and depression together you are living the equivalent of 60 percent of full health," one of the researchers told Reuters.


    Dot No. 2: A study issued last Thursday [which I reported on here] showed that teen suicides rose during the year after the FDA ordered "black box" warnings on the labels of a class of antidepressants called SSRIs.


    The warnings said the drugs can increase the risk of suicidality in teens. Prescriptions to this group dropped sharply. Teen suicides rose sharply.


    The inference: SSRI use by teens reduces, not increases, suicide risk.


    So, connecting Dot 1 and Dot 2, the most basic message is clear: 


    Depression is a devastating disease that needs to be treated.  


    That message is unlikely to surprise regular visitors to It's not always understood by the medical community, insurers and the public at large. 


    So what are you going to do about it?


    Our site is full of features that can help people coping with depression:


    A depression test that can help you determine whether your symptoms may be depression or something else


    A place to start if you've just been diagnosed with depression


    A community of depression experts, advocates and patients to ask questions and share thoughts


    And if you or someone you know is suicidal, check out these resources without delay.  

Published On: September 10, 2007