Friday, July 28, 2006


A recent edition of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Report contained 3 interesting factoids.

First, hospitalization for depression among girls 5 to 19 almost doubled over the last decade; with the rate among girls being double that of boys of the same age. No analysis or explanation accompanied this information, but a couple of things come to mind. Is the disease of depression genetically sex-linked or are the conditions for expression of the disease gender-based? Each of these “scenarios” would require different screening, intervention and treatment. Depression is a growing problem that not infrequently leads to grave consequences (see below) and so this consideration is not merely academic.

Second, mental health “issues” have a huge impact on violent deaths in 2004 (based on collection of data with a “new” database in 7 states). 20% of homicides have contributions from “intimate partner conflicts” (translate to “spouse” abuse) and 16% were “drug-related”. 50% of death by suicide was linked to depression, bipolar disorder and/or schizophrenia and another 28% had a contribution of “intimate partner conflicts”. Alcohol-dependence was also a big contributing cause.

The third factoid, previously declining cigarette use among high school students seems to have “plateaued”. In this section, the CDC included some factors that might have contributed to what had been a significant drop in use. 2 of those factors that stuck out for me were: decrease in exposure to and availability of smoking-prevention campaigns and a near tripling in tobacco advertising and promotion ($5.7 billion to $15.2 billion). Future health problems bought and paid for.

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