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The Burden of Depression and Anxiety in General Medicine

Yves Lecrubier

Published: July 1, 2001

Article Abstract

Psychological illness is responsible for considerable disability worldwide. The World Health OrganizationGlobal Burden of Disease Survey estimates that by the year 2020, major depression will besecond only to ischemic heart disease in the amount of disability experienced by sufferers. Althoughdifferent measures of disability have been used in different studies, they have consistently demonstratedthat individuals with depression and anxiety disorders experience impaired physical and rolefunctioning, more days in bed due to illness, more work days lost, increased impairment at work, andhigh use of health services. The disability caused by depression and anxiety is just as great as thatcaused by other common medical conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, and arthritis. Comorbidityof depression with anxiety or medical illness further increases the disability experienced bysufferers. Recognition and treatment, however, relieve the burden imposed by untreated depression onthe individual, society, and health services.

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