Major depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States. It often accompanies other chronic health conditions, and can lead to potentially deadly health consequences for the patient.
About 95 million Americans live in communities that are considered to have a shortage of mental health providers, says Jim Cohn, Director of External Communications for Walgreens. “Medication nonadherence is also considered to be significant among patients with mental illness, and thus we believe there’s an important role our pharmacists can play in that regard,” he says. “The need is great, and there are a lot of opportunities for pharmacists to help jump in as an integral member of the health care team and provide services for depressed patients to lessen the burden on the system,” says Jolene R. Bostwick, PharmD, BCPS, BCPP, a Clinical Pharmacist in Psychiatry at the University of Michigan Health System.
But while there is significant need, there are also obstacles and challenges to improving detection and care for depressed patients. For example, pharmacists in community settings need to find a way to be reimbursed for screening services. And pharmacists in all settings need to develop strategies to encourage medication adherence, work collaboratively with the care team, and provide realistic medication expectations.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), an estimated 16.1 million adults over age 18 in 2015 had at least one major depressive episode within the previous year.
Patients with chronic illnesses or conditions such as diabetes, cancer, chronic pain, or heart disease are at a greater risk for developing depression. Mental Health America, used earlier research by NIMH to find that depression may occur in 40% to 65% of patients who have experienced a heart attack. In addition, the American Cancer Society says that one in four people with cancer has clinical depression.
While there are certain chronic conditions that may make a person more prone to depression, it can develop at any time in any one.
Up next: More on identifying depression and what you can do about it