Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Mental illness third highest health cost
Last Updated Wed, 03 Sep 2003 16:41:21

OTTAWA - Almost as many Canadians suffer from major depression as they do from heart disease and diabetes, suggests a new Statistics Canada survey.

Four per cent of people questioned reported symptoms of major depression, compared with the five per cent who have heart disease or diabetes.

The study assessed five mental health disorders, including major depression, mania disorder, panic disorder, social phobia and agoraphobia. It also surveyed dependence on alcohol and illicit drugs.

About 2.6 million people surveyed reported "symptoms consistent with alcohol or illicit drug dependence, or one of the five mental disorders," the agency said.

"Health Canada estimates that in 1998, mental disorders were the third highest source of direct health care costs at $4.7 billion," said StatsCan.

"According to the World Health Organization, five of the 10 leading causes of disability are related to mental disorders. It predicts that in less than 20 years, depression will be the second-leading cause of disability in the world."

Women more commonly reported mood and anxiety disorders. Men reported higher dependence on alcohol and drugs.

The study also found that most people with mental disorders or substance dependence did not seek professional help, especially people under age 25.

The information comes from the Canadian Community Health Survey based on data from May 2002 to December 2002. The survey interviewed some 37,000 individuals aged 15 and older, in all Canadian provinces.

Written by CBC News Online staff

If it is so common then why is mental illness (and yes, clinical depression is indeed a mental illness) still so stigmatized? Where is this stigma coming from? Stereotypes of the mentally ill vascillate between the vilified and the romanticized. Why isn't there more understanding?

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