"Depression can have a devastating impact on general functioning and quality of life," said study author Polly Hitchcock Noël, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
"Depression is a treatable disease; and treatment may have the potential to improve quality of life and overall functioning, despite the presence of other chronic illnesses.
"In our study, we looked at four measures of health status, including disability, quality of life, mental functioning, and general health functioning," Noël
explained.The severity of depression was the only thing that was significantly associated with all the health status outcomes, she
Noël's team collected data on 1,801 patients aged 60 and older who were diagnosed with major depression.These patients also had other diseases, including chronic lung disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, heart disease, chronic pain, gastrointestinal disease, and urinary or prostate disease.
"Eight of the illnesses were more associated with physical activity than depression," Noël
said."However, depression made a larger contribution to mental health function, disability, and quality of life than the other medical variables."
Based on her
study and others, Noël
believes that depression contributes to general quality of life, disability, and mental functioning."Treatment for depression has the potential to greatly impact overall health outcomes for primary-care patients over and above the relief of medical symptoms," she
Noël's team found that patients who received treatment for depression showed an improvement in quality of life and were less impaired and less debilitated, compared with patients who did not receive treatment.
According to Noël
, a problem that exists throughout the United States is that depression is not often recognized by primary-care providers."Even when it is recognized, it often receives suboptimal treatment," Noël