The High Cost of DepressionPsychiatrists at the New York State Psychiatric Institute did a study to find out how much it costs to treat patients with pain who are also depressed. They compared the results with a group of pain patients who did not have a depressive disorder.
Over 1,000 patients were included in this study. Patients filled out several health surveys. One gave a measure of how much their pain interferes with daily activities. Another included a medical illness checklist. A disability scale and mental health questionnaire were also included.
The cost of health care for six-months before and after the doctor visit for pain were also added up. Patients with depression had much higher total charges for medical care during the time period. When pain interfered with activities, the cost of medical care was much higher, too.
When these two factors (depression and pain interference) were put together, depression was only linked with patients who had moderate to extreme pain interfering with their daily activities.
This study supports the belief that pain and depression often go hand in hand. Health care costs are on the rise. We may see these costs continue to go up with the increased number of adults who have back pain and mood disorders such as depression.
Could back pain be a symptom of depression? Could treating depression more aggressively reduce the number of patients suffering from back pain? More studies are needed to sort out the role of depression and pain-related interference.
The Confluence of Pain and Depression. In The Back Letter. November 2006. Vol. 21. No. 11. Pp 132.
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