The increasing burden of depression
Recent epidemiological surveys conducted in general populations have found that the lifetime prevalence of depression is in the range of 10% to 15%. Mood disorders, as defined by the World Mental Health and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition, have a 12-month prevalence which varies from 3% in Japan to over 9% in the US. A recent American survey found the prevalence of current depression to be 9% and the rate of current major depression to be 3.4%. All studies of depressive disorders have stressed the importance of the mortality and morbidity associated with depression. The mortality risk for suicide in depressed patients is more than 20-fold greater than in the general population. Recent studies have also shown the importance of depression as a risk factor for cardiovascular death. The risk of cardiac mortality after an initial myocardial infarction is greater in patients with depression and related to the severity of the depressive episode. Greater severity of depressive symptoms has been found to be associated with significantly higher risk of all-cause mortality including cardiovascular death and stroke. In addition to mortality, functional impairment and disability associated with depression have been consistently reported. Depression increases the risk of decreased workplace productivity and absenteeism resulting in lowered income or unemployment. Absenteeism and presenteeism (being physically present at work but functioning suboptimally) have been estimated to result in a loss of $36.6 billion per year in the US. Worldwide projections by the World Health Organization for the year 2030 identify unipolar major depression as the leading cause of disease burden. This article is a brief overview of how depression affects the quality of life of the subject and is also a huge burden for both the family of the depressed patient and for society at large.
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