Thursday, March 16, 2006


According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, 19 million Americans suffer from depression, but, as reported in a 2003 study in the Journal of the American Medical Society, less than 22% of individuals diagnosed with depression receive adequate treatment. Major depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States and is a leading cause of missed work days and poor worker performance. Depression also has a large negative impact on childhood development, academic performance, and general social well-being. It is a major contributor to death by suicide.

A serious problem with our mental health system is that it is episodic, crisis-oriented and reactionary. Instead, it should be focusing on prevention, proactive treatment and long-term wellness. We must break down the barrier of stigma; the stigma of seeking care, the stigma of receiving care, the stigma of being labeled. To have a significant impact on the many "costs" of this illness, we need to ensure early screening and detection of depression and access to effective treatment (psychopharmacologic and psychosocial). In many cases early treatment can prevent depression from worsening and limit long-term disability. The system needs to change its focus.

We all have a stake in this matter. Any other illness that could be screened for and treated, but wasn't, would raise a cry of foul. Why should this illness be any different?


Anonymous said...

I was just reading an article today in my local newspaper how Japan is having a rise in suicide. I wonder if it's due to over crowding or just way too much pressure on the indvidual to perform academically?
Whatever the reason, it's so sad to be put under that kind of stress. I think that is happening here in the United States with our children. Too much is placed on materialism equating succe$$. You can't have a car less than five years old, gotta have a new house etc. etc. I get scared for the new generation and even for my two teenagers!!!
Bridget Herron SoCal

Anonymous said...

Stress is not a cause of clinical depression. Most clinical depression is the result of brain biochemistry, not life events.
In my view, few people who have not suffered with clinical depression (or have a family member who has) can really understand the illness.
I agree with the Coroner that we need to remove the stigma of this illness, but until we do...