Depression Hits One in Six Americans, Study Finds - Article
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Depression Hits One in Six Americans, Study Finds
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Sixteen percent of Americans -- more than 30 million people -- will suffer major depression at some point in their lives, costing employers more than $30 billion in lost productivity, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday.
"Major depression is now the No. 1 leading cause of disability in the general population across the world," Kathleen Merikangas of the National Institute of Mental Health told a news conference.
The survey she reported, of more than 9,000 adults across 48 states, suggested that about 13 million Americans, or more than 6 percent, had an episode of major depression in the last year.
Only about half get any kind of treatment, and only half of them get the right treatment, the survey found.
"The impact that we found in our survey is absolutely dramatic. It affects jobs, marriage, parenting," Merikangas said.
Half the patients had severe depression, as defined by the American Psychiatric Association, and it lasted an average of four months.
Her team's study was one of several published in a special issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (news - web sites). They found that patients and doctors alike were failing to recognize depression.
"Many people don't know that they can get help," Merikangas said. Both drugs and counseling have been shown to help depression.
A DISEASE OF YOUNG ADULTS
Depression becomes less common as people get older and perhaps adjust to their lot in life, the survey found. "It appears that major depression is more common in young adults," Merikangas said.
"We found increased rates of depression as well among those who are poor and less-educated," Merikangas added. The numbers may be even higher, she said, as the survey did not include homeless people or those in institutions.
Women, in particular, were vulnerable to depression. "Women who have children, women who are poor, and women who have little social and financial support," she said.
The symptoms of depression range from feelings of hopelessness and loss of appetite to trouble sleeping. "People with depression feel like they are in a black hole from which they can't escape," Merikangas said.
Depression is the leading cause of suicide.
A separate survey by Walter Stewart and colleagues of the Outcomes Research Institute at Geisinger Health Systems in Danville, Pennsylvania, found the costs of depression affected more than just the patients and their families.
His team interviewed 1,190 working adults and found that 9.4 percent of all workers currently have some form of depression.
They lose, on average, 5.6 hours of work each week, as compared to 1.5 lost hours due to illnesses among non-depressed workers.
"While depression is not the most common illness among working populations, it is probably the most costly," Stewart said.
Half the lost work time comes while employees are at work -- a situation dubbed "presenteeism." The depressed employees, who filled out diaries while at work, wasted more time and worked less efficiently than others, Stewart found.
In the latest Readers Digest there is an interesting article about children and depression. I recommend it.
Linda thanks so much for posting this article!
A couple of years ago I really don't think I understood "depression" too much. I think in the back of my mind, I thought that if people would just eat right and exercise and pray and spend time with God, that they could get over feeling "blue". I did not understand that depression was more than "feeling blue".
But I have had to learn the hard way, that it is not something that people can "just get over" anymore than someone can just get over sugar diabetes or some other illness. Most times, there is a biological chemical imbalance at the base of clinical depression. Sure we all feel "blue" at times, but that is not depression.
Tippy, thanks for mentioning the Reader's Digest article - I will definitely check it out!
It is always good to hear from you guys - we miss you both!
I always like to read the articles on depression because I suffer from it.I have since I was 12.I am 27 now. So its interesting to read how they are finding out more and more.
Hi, I am almost 38 years old, I have battled depression on and off pretty much my whole life. When I am happy, I can't believe I will ever feel bad again. When I get down, I can't imagine ever seeing the light of day again. Right now I am so low, even on antidepressants, that I wish I was super old and almost dead. That sounds awful, I don't really want to die, I just want the horrid weight of sadness to end. I miss laughing, I feel crushed and defeated. It seems like a person can take just so much rejection, I lost my husband, my job, a cat that was always there for me. OUch!! I can't feel sorry for myself, everyone has losses, it just seems as if there are no positives anymore. Gratitute backfires, whenever I feel grateful for something, I lose it. I loved my job, I was grateful for it, now it is gone. Has anyone found a way to rise above depression? Is there a way to see the sunshine again? I don't want to bring others down, sorry for whining. Just want to see if anyone can relate to the awful depression that is smashing me.
Jill, I am so sorry that I did not see your post before today. I'm sure others didn't see it also.
Having a son with a chemical imbalance I certainly understand the ups and downs that seem to go along with it. I can only hope that you are feeling better then you did at the time you posted this message.
I don't really know what to say, but wanted you to know that I care, and that I'm sorry for your pain! I'm sure there are many people that can relate to the awful depression that you are feeling!
You may need to try a different anti depressant if you are feeling this low often. Sometimes they just "poop out" and you have to try another one. Also are you doing the other things you need to do to take care of yourself? eating healthy? exercising? getting rest? getting out and about? spending time with other people? (you know the normal things that we all need to do)?
I pray that you will see the sunshine Jill! There is always hope! There is ALWAYS hope! There is always HOPE!
Therapy Articles (Light, etc.)
Here's an article I found.... don't know if its true b/c I haven't researched it enough...but I think the general idea is here:
What is Light Therapy?
Light therapy involves the use of a light source designed to affect the body as the sun would affect it if there were sunlight available. Light Therapy (or phototherapy) is a non-evasive, non-medication therapy recognized by the National Institutes of Mental Health and American Psychiatric Association as a viable therapy using light as the primary tool to treat conditions such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), depression, dysthymia, manic depression, lethargy, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), bulimia nervosa, and secondary symptoms (e.g., Sundowner's Syndrome) associated with Alzheimer's disease.
Light therapy is called alternative but it has been used for years. Putting newborn babies under intense light is a routinely prescribed way to treat jaundice. Exposing people to carefully timed bright lights can reset the biological clock, helping people overcome jet lag or cope with the stresses of shift work.
Today, even conventional doctors are accepting these and other therapeutic uses of light therapy .
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? Everyone gets "the winter blues." So, what's different about SAD?
Many people complain about feeling down, having less energy, putting on a few pounds, and having difficulty getting up in the morning throughout the dark short days of winter. People suffering from SAD experience these and other symptoms to such a degree that they feel unable to function normally. They often feel chronically depressed and fatigued, and want to withdraw from the world and to avoid social contacts. They may increase their sleep by as much as four hours or more per day; have greatly increased appetite, often accompanied by irresistible cravings for sweet and starchy food, and gain a substantial amount of weight. Women frequently report worsening of premenstrual symptoms. People with SAD suffer in the extreme the kinds of changes which others may suffer to a much lesser degree in wintertime. An individual SAD sufferer, however, need not show all the symptoms described above. Sleep duration, for example, may be normal, while carbohydrate craving may be extreme, or vice versa. Sometimes a symptom in the cluster is actually opposite the norm, such as insomnia as opposed to excessive sleep. Recent studies indicate that about five times as many people may suffer from "winter doldrums," a subclinical level of SAD, as suffer at the level of clinical severity. These people notice the return of SAD-like symptoms each winter, and are bothered by them, but remain fully functional. As many as 25% of the population at the middle-to-northern latitudes of the United States experience "winter doldrums."
How does light therapy work?
Exposure to bright light effects changes in a person's circadian rhythms. Thousands of people find relief through bright light therapy, although the physiological mechanism is still uncertain. Such exposures suppress the secretion of melatonin (which makes us sleepy), and increase the secretion of seratonin (which keeps us alert and full of energy), but which of these influences are the primary mechanism is not yet known.
What intensity and duration is most effective?
Light therapy involves exposure to intense levels of light under controlled conditions. Our technologically advanced lightbox is set up on a table or desktop at which one can sit comfortably for the treatment session. Treatment consists simply of sitting close to this light. Looking at the light is not necessary or recommended; rather people are free to engage in such activities as reading, writing, relaxing, using the computer, watching television, or eating meals. What is important is to orient your head and body toward the light, concentrating on activities illuminated by the lights, and not on the lights themselves. Treatment sessions can last from fifteen minutes to three hours, once or twice a day, depending on individual needs. The time of day for light therapy is an important factor. Many people with winter depression respond best to treatment early in the morning. However, people who wish to stay up later will want to use the lightbox early in the evening. Two standard intensities are indicated: 5,000 lux for an average of one to two hours, or 10,000 lux for an average of 30 minutes to one hour. Intensity can be changed simply by moving closer or further away from the light. Regular use and experimentation will determine the optimum time of day for each individual.
What has research shown?
Researchers at medical centers and clinics in the USA, Canada, and other countries around the world have had much success with light therapy in many hundreds of patients with clear histories of SAD for at least several years. Marked improvement is usually observed within four of five days, if not sooner. Symptoms usually return in about the same amount of time when the lights are withdrawn. Most users maintain a consistent daily schedule beginning, as needed, in fall or winter and usually continuing until spring, when outdoor light becomes sufficient to maintain good mood and high energy. Some people can skip treatment for between one to three days, but most notice the effects almost immediately if treatment is interrupted.
Are there any side-effects?
Side effects have been minimal. People occasionally report eye irritation and redness which can be alleviated by sitting further away from the light. Using a humidifier to counteract the dryness of winter air indoors may also help. The most dramatic side effect, and one which occurs infrequently, is a switch from a lethargic state to a state of over-activity. In such instances, cutting back the amount of daily timed exposure to the light usually helps. If not, getting the guidance of a physician skilled in the use of light therapy is advised.
When are the lights contra-indicated?
People with a history or family history of Bipolar Disorder should exercise caution. Bright light therapy has been known to serve as a trigger for manic eposides. Research studies exclude patients with ocular or retinal pathology (for example, glaucoma, cataracts, retinal detachment, retinopathy) and those who might be at risk (for example, predisposing factors of diabetes). No adverse effects of light therapy has been found in eye examinations of SAD patients to date.
Can the lights be combined with antidepressant medication?
People who have received partial benefit from antidepressants often begin light therapy without changing drug dose. If there is a quick improvement, it is then sometimes possible to reduce the dosage or withdraw the drugs under clinical supervision, while maintaining improved mood and energy. Some patients find a combination of light and drug treatment to be most effective (particularly with Prozac & Zoloft). Some antidepressant drugs and antibiotics, however, are known or suspected to be photosensitizers which may interact with the effect of light in the retina of the eyes. Users of these drugs should therefore check with their medical practitioner or pharmacist before commencing light treatment.
Do lightboxes work for people with major clinical depression, too?
Statistics show that approximately 5-9% of the population suffer from depression. Of those, over half go undiagnosed, and of the remaining half, less than 15% will receive adequate treatment. In an article written by Jeff Kelsey, M.D. recently published in Healthline Magazine, major depression costs the U.S. economy over 40 billion dollars per year, of which only 28% represents the expense of treatment. Females are twice as likely as males to develop depression during their lives, and experience has found that in general, being able to explain a reason for depression is rarely an effective treatment. In the past, antidepressants have been the treatment of choice, often in conjunction with psychotherapy. Where one antidepressant was not enough, two different varieties were often prescribribed to be taken together. Results were not typically seen until the 4th week. Today, however, research is questioning the efficacy of antidepressants altogether after a study by Irving Kirsch, Ph.D., published in Prevention and Treatment, the journal of the American Psychological Association, showed that the beneficial effects of antidepressants only outweighed placebos by 25%. In other words, 75% of the patients responded as well to the placebos as the control group did to the actual antidepressant. Additionally, a growing number of patients are becoming discontent with the results of their antidepressants. It is thus timely that new research shows light therapy to be a viable alternative to antidepressants, thus providing patients with many new options.
According to Daniel Kripke, MD, director of the Circadian Pacemaker Laboratory at the University of California, San Diego, "Light may produce antidepressant benefits within 1 week, in contrast to psychopharmacological treatments, which typically take several weeks." In a review of clinical trials, Kripke determined that bright light therapy for nonseasonal major depression produced statistically significant net reductions in mood symptoms of about 12-35% on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. He noted those results were comparable with those obtained in major trials of antidepressant medications.
Many doctors now recommend patients use light therapy (lightboxes) in conjunction with their antidepressant (notably Prozac and Zoloft) regimen, and they are getting excellent results. "Light and medications appear to work best in combination," Kripke said, adding that combined treatment should also equal lower costs due to faster improvement and less disability.
Light therapy has a strong advocate in Anna Wirz-Justice, PhD, professor of psychiatry at the University of Basel in Switzerland, who is quoted in an article from The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) as saying, "Light is as effective as antidepressant medications are, perhaps more so." Indeed, several European hospitals have already begun to administer light therapy for depression.
A controlled study on nonseasonal depression is currently underway at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City. The study will once again investigate the efficacy of bright light treatment for nonseasonal depression.
Can light therapy help people who have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)?
Depression, joint pain, and fatigue are the 3 most debilitating symptoms of CFS. In one case study, Dr. Raymond Lam of Vancouver, discovered light therapy alleviated a patient's depression as well as her joint pain; in other cases, improvement has focused mainly on mood and sleep. Clinical trials of light therapy for CFS patients have now become a priority, particularly in light of the fact that to date, successful treatment interventions remain elusive.
Will insurance cover the cost?
Many insurance companies have reimbursed the purchase price of Ott bioLightboxes for the treatment of SAD, PMS, Major Clinical Depression, sleep disorders and circadian imbalances relating to shift work. Eligibility will depend on your individual contract and the current policy of your medical insurer. You are advised to check it out and ask your medical practitioner for a prescription.
I have heard about this form of depression and light therapy treatments. I know that the winter months can affect your outlook. Makes sense to me.
I am one who suffers these symptoms. I sleep 12 hours or more in the winter and I have no energy. in the summer I have some energy but not much more than winter.
so I have been thinking about this light thearpy if I get this way again this year.
Antidieter its worth a try! Did you ever consider seeing a doctor ?
Living in the rainy, grey northwest, this is a common problem around here. I know a lot of people who have used light therapy and say it's effective for them. Personally, I decorate in bright colors. My couches are colbalt blue and everything has red, yellow, purple, and green accents. I find that I can brighten up my own space and keep my spirits up without expensive therapy. No neutrals for me!!!! ;)
I have seasonal affective disorder and I know how hard it is to keep your self on track during the Winter months. Getting up in the morning is hard let alone exercising.
It's going to be ok as long as there are people who understand what it's like to lose everything, to hardly have the energy to go on.
In the last two years I've lost my career, home and good health. From a robust healthy lady to a destitute woman without enough money to eat. Because of an undiagnosed heart problem/stroke at a young age. So now I'm living quietly, somewhat shy of getting out there. I work because I must, I'm on this board because I must reach out. Now instead of lip service to prayer, I really pray! I can't afford to turn away from God now. I've learned I need people to survive even though mean and uncaring people contributed to my situation, I must have faith.
I try to find happiness in small, simple steps like my cat purring or a quiet evening. I keep all momentos of kindness here on my wall in my room in order to tap into love.
I WILL take those walks, I WILL care for my health. I will be here to contribute to your well being as well. There are millions of us out there who are attempting to survive in the face of great setbacks. It just takes time to get our breath and begin again. But one fine day we will look back and breathe deeply and feel wonderful once more. One day at a time. We're going to be back again. Say the Jabez prayer.
Hello Jill, I'm 27 and have suffered from depression since I was 12. I had also started gaining weight at around that time. In the last year I have been going to a pshyco therapist and have gone on two medications that have pretty much quit working for me.
I recently lost my insurance so I can no loner afford to have my meds or see my therapist, but I still work on what she has taught me to do... and I would love to share this with you.
She said that I should keep a journal off all my thoughts and feelings everyday. Kind of a personal diary. It seems to help me a lot to get to vent about things that you really don't want other people knowing about. I also find comfort in reading past enteries and actually seeing that I can get though what seems like a tuff time at the moment. It also reminds me that there are bigger problems that bother me but at least it's in my journal and I can put those nagging thoughts away for a while.
I have taught myself that if I start to get depressed or stressed about something then I tell myself "I don't have time for this right now", and the time to think about it usually comes when I'm with my journal.
She has also taught me to do one good thing for myself everyday. Now I know this sounds stupid, but it's pretty hard to do something for yourself when you're frame of mind is that you're just not worth it. Like for instance one day I took the dog for a walk, and later I was pretty embarrased that it was all I could do for myself.
Or another thing was that I took a bath and shaved my legs. I keep track of these things because I have found out how much I have grown inside, and that makes me feel pretty good.
Well, I hope that this helps you out and I hope to here from you again. Pebbles
I must say that it makes me smile to read these entries, it reminds me that I'm not alone mostly. I've been on the depression rollercoaster since I was about 8 years old, I know it seems impossible but I've had problems ever since I can remember. I used to tell myself that it was my parents and that they were ruining my life, etc etc etc. When I finally left home and went to college, I was happy for about two weeks and everything started going downhill from there. Fall quarter wasn't so bad but winter and spring quarters were horrible, I spent all of my free time hiding in my room, very rarely did anything and didn't study near enough. Then summer came and I was stuck at home again, I thought the world would end that summer but it didn't, I made it through even took a trip to Europe which may have been the best three weeks of my life, I went back to start my second year of college with a bright outlook but I soon found that I was wrong. Finally, spring quarter of my sophomore year, I went to the counseling center for several months. Now, I have never allowed myself to be honest with anyone and had never gone to a therapist by my own choice. The first day I walked into that office, I was literally shaking, I was embarassed and scared. I'm so glad I went. My therapist was a graduate student and he taught me to really look at my life and the things I loved about it and the things I was just doing because I was "supposed" to do them. I've learned that there will be days and weeks even when I will feel horrible but it's during those times when I have to surround myself with the things I love the most such as music and art and pictures of my animals and friends. I've also learned to cut out some of the things in my life that I only did to prove a point and that I didn't get any actual satisfaction from. Part of my problem was that I was very involved with various campus groups but was never happy with the work I did with them. I would put on a very successful program and all I could see was that it started five minutes late or that it wasn't the best set-up, I never once sawed that people had fun or learned something. It wasn't until the end of my sophomore year of high school that I someone complimented me and it made me feel good, ever.
Now I find myself looking back at what I learned while I was talking with my counselor almost everyday, remember to do something that I really enjoy (like playing a video game or sitting at the piano). I'm also very happy to say that my family and I get along much better than when I was living at home, I really look forward to seeing my parents and my two older sisters. I also have two nieces who have become the light of my life. I may have scars from my early years and they may never fade away but now I can look past them I suppose.
The most important thing to think is not that things can't get worse because they always can, it's just the way of the world, but that things can always get better. :spin:
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