The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association wanted to find out how quality of life was impacted by various diseases. Hypertension was cited as the most significant, but major depression was second. The study looked at over 200 other medical conditions.
Facts and Figures
Major depression has been diagnosed in 4.4 percent of those submitting commercial insurance claims. That figure represents nine million Americans. It also shows a rise of 33 percent since 2013.
Nationally, the only state not showing an increased diagnosis rate was Hawaii, which had a slight drop. All the other states saw rising rates between 2013 and 2016. The highest rates were in the Pacific Northwest, the Northeast, and sections of the South and Midwest. Rhode Island ranked first with a rate of 6 percent.
The Effects on General Health
The study revealed that the general health of those with major depression is 30 percent lower than someone without the condition. This may mean 10 years less of a healthy life for both men and women. Not only would it be shorter, but quality of life would be lower, and greater use of the healthcare system may cause up to twice the spending.
Teens and young adults saw the greatest increase in the condition, with a 47 percent rise. Especially high were teen girls, with a 65 percent increase. Suicide rates among girls ages 15 to 19 doubled between 2007 and 2015 for a 40-year record, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“The high rates for adolescents and millennials could have a substantial health impact for decades to come,” said Trent Haywood, Blue Cross-Blue Shield Chief Medical Officer, and Vice President.
Complications of the Study
An overwhelming majority of those diagnosed with depression also had concurrent conditions. Only 15 percent had major depression alone. According to the study, “While major depression is the second most important health condition for the nation, it is complicated by an increased likelihood of overlapping diagnoses of other chronic, behavioral health and pain-related conditions.”
Also, the study suggests that there is most likely an underestimate of those with major depression. Although most people have some kind of health insurance, many do not get treated or even seek help for the condition.
According to Haywood, “Further education and research are needed to identify methods for both physicians and patients to effectively treat major depression and begin a path to recovery and better overall health.”