Geneva: Depression is more harmful to health than lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and obesity, according to a new report from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The organisation investigated information on 250,000 patients in 60 countries, and discovered that on a scale of zero to 100 – with zero indicating worst health and 100 indicating best – sufferers of depression had an average score of 72.9.
This compared with ‘better’ scores of 80.3 for asthmatics, 79.6 for angina sufferers, 79.3 for arthritis sufferers and 78.9 for those with diabetes.
does more harm to a person’s wellbeing than physical diseases such as asthma, angina and diabetes, a study has found.
In 2000, scientists rated depression as having the fourth greatest public health impact. But by 2020 they predict it will have risen to become the second leading cause of disease burden.
The study, in a report published in the medical magazine, The Lancet, was led by Dr Somnath Chatterji, who said its findings demonstrated the urgent need to improve treatment for depression.
He said: “When people come for treatment for long-term chronic diseases, doctors tend to focus mainly on the physical diseases – they are not looking for depression.
“This study reinforces the importance of recognising and treating depression as part of chronic illness because it’s a much more effective way to improve people’s health than just dealing with chronic physical illness. The treatment of mental illness is a necessity, not a luxury.”