Center for American Progress

Better Screening of Chronically Ill Patients for Mental Health Problems
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Better Screening of Chronically Ill Patients for Mental Health Problems

The issue of comorbidity is ignored by many payment mechanisms and indeed there are often financial disincentives for integrated physical and mental care.

There are strong arguments for better integration of the mental and physical health care systems. The issue of comorbidity is ignored by many payment mechanisms and indeed there are often financial disincentives for integrated physical and mental care.

The risk of becoming depressed for those with chronic illnesses is between 25 percent and 33 percent. It is especially high for those who have had a heart attack (40 percent to 65 percent), Parkinson’s disease (40 percent), cancer (25 percent), and diabetes (25 percent). Clinicians need to be alert to this and willing to offer appropriate treatment.

Early diagnosis and treatment can reduce distress, as well as the risk of complications and suicide for those with chronic illness and depression. Depression treatment can produce an improvement in many patients’ overall medical condition, quality of life, and likelihood of sticking to a long-term treatment plan.

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