A study published this week in the respected academic journal PLOS Medicine shows the extent to which death and disability is attributable to clinical depression. The authors analysed the overall burden of depression as well as breaking it down by regions of the world. The study carried out in Australia and lead by Dr Alize Ferrari of the University of Queensland is the most recent and one of the most comprehensive takes to date on the known published studies out there. The results show that markers of disease burden for clinical depression, the so-called ‘disability-adjusted life years’ (DALYs), ‘years lived with a disability’ (YLDs) and ‘years lost because of disease-specific premature death’ (YLLs) vary quite widely by world region. The researchers said, “it is important to understand variations in burden by disorder, country, region, age, sex, and year when setting global health objectives.”
Clinical depression was shown to have a particularly high burden in Latin America. In the South American region (including Chile) depression was ranked second in terms of YLDs and fourth for DALYs. This finding underscores recent concerns over levels of depression in the country. The study also highlighted the fact that depression often leads to suicide and can be a risk factor for more physical disorders such as heart disease.