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Depression Exacts Higher Toll Than Chronic Conditions

Mean health scores are lower with depression than with angina, arthritis, asthma and diabetes

FRIDAY, Sept. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Depression, especially when accompanied by other chronic physical health conditions, has a greater effect on reducing mean health scores than conditions such as angina, arthritis, asthma and diabetes alone, according to study findings published in the Sept. 8 issue of The Lancet.

Somnath Chatterji, M.D., of the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, and colleagues analyzed data from the WHO's World Health Survey on 245,404 adults from 60 countries.

The researchers found that one-year prevalence rates were 3.2 percent for depression, 4.5 percent for angina, 4.1 percent for arthritis, 3.3 percent for asthma and 2 percent for diabetes. They also found that between 9.3 percent and 23 percent of subjects with one or more these chronic physical conditions also had depression. Their analysis showed that depression was associated with lower mean health scores than the other chronic conditions and that depressed subjects with one or more comorbid conditions had the lowest health scores of all.

"The comorbid state of depression incrementally worsens health compared with depression alone, with any of the chronic diseases alone, and with any combination of chronic diseases without depression," the authors conclude. "These results indicate the urgency of addressing depression as a public-health priority to reduce disease burden and disability, and to improve the overall health of populations."

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