Depression

Depression, a state of low mood and aversion to activity, can affect a person’s thoughts, behavior, tendencies, feelings, and sense of well-being. Symptoms of the mood disorder are marked by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration and a significant increase/decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping. A lot of people also have feelings of dejection, hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies. It can either be short term or long term depending on the severity of the person’s condition.

Depression in adulthood

Adversity in childhood, such as bereavement, neglect, mental abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and unequal parental treatment of siblings can contribute to depression in adulthood. Childhood physical or sexual abuse in particular significantly correlates with the likelihood of experiencing depression over the victim’s lifetime. A depressed mood is a normal temporary reaction to life events, such as the loss of a loved one.

It is also a symptom of some physical diseases and a side effect of some drugs and medical treatments. Depressed mood may also be a symptom of some mood disorders such as major depressive disorder or dysthymia. A new investigation published in JAMA Psychiatry finds that while insurance coverage for depression has increased; treatment rates are lower than expected, indicating that non-financial barriers to patient care still remain. Jason Hockenberry.

“While insurance coverage has expanded; the growth in the use of services has grown more modestly,” says Hockenberry. “Taken in the context of other literature, this suggests there may other barriers to treatment at work. The researchers analyzed health services and spending data from 1997, 2007 and 2015 Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys; which included the responses of 86,216 individuals.

New treatments and medications

During the examined survey years, a number of new treatments and medications became available; as did an increase in policies targeted toward mental health (such as the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act); which increased coverage of mental health services. Findings from the researchers’ analysis show an absolute increase in the prevalence of treated depression; the proportion covered by insurance (Medicaid in particular) has increased.
Despite this, overall spending on depression-related care has only experienced a gradual increase (approximately 2 percent a year) from 1998 to 2015; the rate of treatment for depression remains lower than the reported rate of incidence. Despite historic expansions of insurance coverage for individuals with mental health conditions, it appears that in this case, the growth in use and cost has been more modest than some might have expected. “The main shift has been that Medicaid expenditures for this condition have increased markedly, with a concomitant decrease among those that do not have insurance.”