The rate of patients admitted to American hospitals with depression as a secondary diagnosis nearly tripled from 1995 to 2005, a new report found.
Jason Hildalgo, writing for The Reno Gazette Journal on November 19, 2007, writes that the number of patients admitted to hospitals for other conditions but are also found to suffer from depression jumped from 93 per 10,000 people to 247 per 10,000 people, according to the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Meanwhile, the number of patients admitted solely for depression within the same 10-year period remained stable -- falling slightly from 45 per 10,000 people to 42 per 10,000 people.
In Nevada, hospitalizations for depression alone dropped from 4.1 per 10,000 people to 2.6 per 10,000 people from 2002 to 2005, said Pam Owens, senior research scientist for the agency. Add secondary diagnoses for depression to the list, however, and the rate climbs up from 45.9 per 10,000 people to 58.1 per 10,000 people Owens said. The agency couldn't provide an analysis of how much Nevada's numbers may have changed from 1995, Owens said.
"Unfortunately, we're only able to look at four years worth of data for Nevada because previous data wasn't available," Owens said. "The data seems to suggest that some of the trends we're seeing nationally are also going on in Nevada."
According to the study, people with a secondary diagnosis of depression were 3.5 times more likely to have a primary diagnosis of alcohol and substance abuse than patients who didn't have depression. The 2.9 million stays in 2005 that had depression as a primary or co-existing illness cost nearly $22 billion.
The report also focuses on numbers alone and doesn't delve into potential reasons why cases for depression are on the rise. Contributing factors can include an actual increase in the number of people suffering from depression, improved recognition of depression by health care providers and family members, or even more willingness among insurers to pay for treatment of depression, Owens said. The true reason won't be known, however, until an actual study is done to find out the cause for the increase in depression cases, Owens added.
"Mental health is an under-recognized condition," Owens said. "Clearly, more attention needs to be paid to hospitalizations and the treatment of depression. Studies have shown a strong link between the mind and the body. We need to investigate why this is happening."