According to the World Health Organization (WHO) by the year 2020, depression will be the number two cause of "lost years of healthy life" worldwide. However, the cost in human suffering cannot be estimated.
When I suffered from severe depression before I was rescued by vagus nerve stimulation, my whole body would ache. From head ache, down to my shoulders and arms, I was in constant physical pain. Depression takes a toll on the body. Researchers are just beginning to recognize the relationship between depression and pain. Depression often goes undiagnosed.
If you have a serious medical illness, patients may not have their depression diagnosed. There's a series of reasons for that, but one of the major reasons is that internal medicine physicians are not looking for it.They discount the depression. Sometimes the medical disorders may mask the symptoms; you have low weight, low appetite, and poor concentration due to the medical illness, so the diagnosis doesn't occur. The key issue is that the physician does not look for the depression. It's very hard to get the message across that a standard question in their repertoire should be: is the patient depressed? "Does the patient drink any alcohol" is fairly standard, but "is the patient depressed" is not something they look at.
One of the issues is that sometimes people just don't want to see things even if they're there; even though it's there, we don't always see it. The message for our internal medicine practioners is to look out for depression; it's there. And if you don't spot it, you're increasing the mortality and morbidity of your patients, so it's very important.
I have written many times that if you don't get the right diagnosis, you won't get the right treatment. Antidepressants are very effective for about 80% of the depressed population. However for about 20% of the depressed popluation (like me) antidepressants are not effective. Now the first ever FDA long term treatment option for depression is available: vagus nerve stimulation. You can learn more about this remarkable therapy at http://wwww.VagusNerveStimulator.com The ninety minute out patient procedure completely changed my life, when every other available therapy had failed.
Charles Donovan was a study subject in the investigational trial of vagus nerve stimulation as a treatment for chronic depression. His remarkable recovery inspired him to write the book:
Out of the Black Hole: The Patient's Guide to Vagus Nerve Stimulation and Depression
The book will be exhibited at the U.S. Psychiatric and Mental Health Congress from November 6-10th at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas and is available at Amazon.com