Clinical depression strikes more than 17.5 million adults each year, and it costs society approximately $43 billion annually, according to a study published in the November 1993 Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. The study, “The Economic Burden of Depression in 1990,” conducted by the Analysis Group Inc. and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management, ranks depression among some of the most costly major health concerns – including coronary heart disease, cancer and AIDS – and says that it is more widespread than all three.
An estimated 200 million work days are lost every year due to this illness, according to the Washington Business Group on Health, a non-profit health and research organisation of 200 of the nation’s largest employers.
A study conducted at first Chicago Corporation by Daniel J. Conti, Ph.D., and Wayne N. Burton, MD, revealed that clinical depression results in short-term disability costs similar to other chronic illnesses such as heart disease and back injuries. The average length of disability and the disability relapse rate was greater for depressive disorders than for comparative medical problems.
The study concluded that given the costs of depressive disorders, mental health benefit plans must reduce barriers to early intervention and treatment. “High quality, comprehensive and cost-effective mental health benefits can be offered by major corporations,” said Burton, “providing that the benefits are carefully designed and managed.”
The study showed that intervention by an employee assistance professional decreased the days of short-term disability due to depression in the face of increasing claims between 1985 and 1994. The number of short-term disability (STD) events rose, while the days per STD event remained low. Getting Help-Seeking Treatment, Melvin Sabshin, MD, medical director of the American Psychiatric Association describes depression as a “real ailment with real treatments…(fortunately) today’s treatments are safe and effective.” Treatments include medication, psychotherapy or a combination of the two. Only a doctor, mental health expert or clinically trained EAP professional can diagnose a person for clinical depression and suggest treatment.
Individuals who experience these symptoms of depression should seek help from a qualified professional:
· Persistent sad or “empty” mood
· Loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities
· Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”
· Sleep disturbances
· Eating disturbances
· Difficulty concentrating
· Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
· Thoughts of death or suicide
· Excessive crying
· Chronic aches and pains that don’t respond to treatment
Although more than 80 percent of patients suffering from depression can be successfully treated, fear, stigma and lack of knowledge prevent two-thirds of those with clinical depression from seeking treatment.
In South African there is a Depression and Anxiety Support Group staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to give the public further information on all aspects of Depression. Resources of brochures, books, audio tapes, various pamphlets are all available free of charge to callers.