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Depression May Be World's Most Disabling Disease
Date:9/7/2007

Global study finds it takes bigger toll than other chronic conditions

FRIDAY, Sept. 7 (HealthDay News) -- When compared with other chronic diseases, depression may well be the most disabling disease in the world, a new global study finds.

People with chronic physical diseases such as angina, arthritis, asthma and diabetes also fare far worse if they also suffer from depression, the team of international researchers found.

"Being sad is bad for your health," according to lead researcher Dr. Somnath Chatterji, from the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland.

But all too often, he said, depression doesn't get the serious attention paid to physical ailments.

"Treatment of mental health conditions such as depression are a necessity, not a luxury. Mental health conditions such as depression must be treated on a par with physical health conditions," Chatterji said.

In the study, published in the Sept. 8 issue of The Lancet, Chatterji's team perused data on more than 245,000 people from 60 countries participating in WHO's World Health Survey.

They found that 3.2 percent of people had experienced a depressive episode in the past year. For people with angina, the rate was 4.5 percent; for people with arthritis, it was 4.1 percent; for those with asthma, it was 3.3 percent; and for people with diabetes, it was 2 percent.

Moreover, between 9 percent and 23 percent of people had depression in addition to suffering from one or more of these conditions. That's significantly higher than the likelihood of having depression without having a chronic disease, Chatterji's group noted.

After the researchers had accounted for socioeconomic factors and health conditions, they confirmed that depression had the biggest effect on worsening health compared with the other four major chronic illnesses. In different countries, people with depression plus one or more chroni
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