Depression more disabling than other chronic diseases

A major WHO study has reported that depression is more damaging to health than angina, arthritis, asthma and diabetes.

The WHO World Health Survey reviewed health data for 245,404 adults from 60 countries around the world.

Overall, one-year prevalence for depression alone was 3·2 per cent; for angina 4·5 per cent; for arthritis 4·1 per cent; for asthma 3·3 per cent; and for diabetes 2 per cent.

An average of between 9·3 per cent and 23 per cent of participants with one or more chronic physical disease had comorbid depression. This result was significantly higher than the likelihood of having depression in the absence of a chronic physical disease.

The researchers said: ‘After adjustment for socioeconomic factors and health conditions, depression had the largest effect on worsening mean health scores compared with the other chronic conditions.

‘Consistently across countries and different demographic characteristics, respondents with depression comorbid with one or more chronic diseases had the worst health scores of all the disease states.’

The Lancet 2007; 370:851-858

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