Depression diagnoses in L.A. County increases nearly 50 percent
Major cause of disability, economic losses and suicide
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Nearly 14 percent of adults surveyed in Los Angeles County said they had been diagnosed with depression, up from about 9 percent in 1999, the county's top health official said today.
"The increase in rates of diagnosed depressive disorders may reflect better recognition and reporting of the disorder, rather than an actual increase in the frequency of depression,'' according to Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director of the county Department of Public Health. "However, from any perspective, depression takes a large toll in terms of disease burden, and is the most common mental health problem.''
The numbers in the report—titled "Trends in Depression: Shedding Light on the Darkness''—reflect the number of adults who have been diagnosed with depression at any point in time, whether or not they are currently suffering.
Depression is a major cause of disability, economic losses and suicide, health officials said.
Other report findings include:
• Women in L.A. County consistently reported higher rates of depression and a more significant increase in cases than men.
• Rates were up in all racial and ethnic groups, but Asians and Pacific Islanders reported the lowest numbers, which may suggest under-recognition of depression or other cultural variations.
• Depression often co-occurs with other chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, and is sometimes associated with risky behaviors like heavy drinking and cigarette smoking.
"We need to ensure that those suffering from depression get diagnosed early and receive timely care,'' Fielding said.
The report suggests ways that elected officials, employers, health care providers, families and friends can help those suffering from depression, including:
• making mental health care services available with an eye toward cultural sensitivities;
• promoting a stigma-free work environment and providing education about depression to employees;
• advocating for treatment and insurance reimbursement; and • providing emotional support, understanding and patience, and encouraging depressed individuals to seek immediate medical care.
If a loved one talks about suicide, do not leave the individual alone, the report recommends. Help that person get care from a mental health or medical professional.
Information about free and low-cost services can be found at http://dmh.lacounty.gov.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—The National Institutes of Health awarded $81.3 million to UCLA and several partners for research into conditions that cause disability and early death in Los Angeles County.
Rates of premature death and disability related to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, AIDS, depression, violence and other preventable conditions in the county far exceed national averages, according to Dr. A. Eugene Washington, UCLA’s vice chancellor for health sciences and dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
SANTA MONICA, Calif.—People suffering from depression are less likely to stick to a medication regimen to treat chronic health problems, putting them at increased risk of more serious health issues, according to a study released by the Santa Monica-based RAND Corp.
The study found that depressed patients suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease were 76 percent less likely to adhere to their medication schedule, when compared to patients who are not depressed.
Reducing salt consumption below the currently recommended 2,300 milligrams — about 1 1/2 teaspoons— per day maybe unnecessary, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Institute of Medicine (IOM).
The news follows a decades-long push to get Americans to reduce the amount of salt in their diet because of strong links between high sodium consumption and hypertension, a known risk factor for heart disease.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—A coalition representing homeless veterans sued the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs today, alleging the federal agency failed to provide stable housing at its West Los Angeles facility for vets suffering from mental disorders.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California filed the proposed class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles on behalf of four homeless veterans, the Vietnam Veterans of America and Carolina Winston Barrie, a descendant of one of the property’s original owners.
PASADENA, Calif.—Children who are overweight or obese have a significantly higher prevalence of psoriasis, and teens with psoriasis, regardless of their body weight, have higher cholesterol levels, according to a Kaiser Permanente study published online in the Journal of Pediatrics. The study findings suggest that higher heart disease risk for patients with psoriasis starts in childhood in the form of higher cholesterol levels.