Mental Health, Depression and Health Insurance

If you have a mental illness or mood disorder such as depression, health insurance is crucial. Everyone feels sad, anxious, stressed or worried from time to time--it's part of being human. But with a mental illness like depression, these feelings don't go away and can be severe enough to disrupt your quality of life. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that 1 in 5 adult Americans will develop a serious mental health disorder during his or her lifetime.

But there's good news: with proper health insurance, depression and other mental illnesses are often treatable. Understanding the relationship between mental illness and health insurance is an important first step to putting your life back on track.

What is Mental Illness?

People who are unable to maintain healthy thought patterns are defined as being afflicted with a form of "mental illness." Meeting and keeping friends, holding a job, interacting with loved ones or simply enjoying life become extremely difficult for someone suffering from a psychological disorder.

People with serious mental illness often feel stricken with constant tension and fear, persistent feelings of inadequacy, extreme pessimism, changes in mood and/or behavior and physical ailments that have no identifiable cause.

Mental Illness in the U.S.

There is often a stigma attached to mental illness that makes some people feel embarrassed about seeking treatment, but in fact these conditions are very common. Roughly one in five American families is directly affected by a mental illness.

Over 20 million Americans ages 18 and over suffer from at least one mood disorder. That's nearly 10% of the population. Suicide was the leading cause of death in the U.S. in 1992, and numerous studies have shown that the vast majority of people who commit suicide have a diagnosable mental illness. In any given year, 1 in every 10 Americans will experience some degree of disability due to a mental health disorder.

Health Insurance, Depression and the Cost of Mental Illness

Mental illness is accompanied by an immense emotional burden, but it takes an even greater toll on the nation's bottom line. Mental Health Matters estimates the annual cost of depression at $44 billion, second only to cancer in terms of economic impact. The annual cost of all mental illnesses is thought to be much greater. Mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and Canada for people ages 15-44 (NIMH), and each year roughly 6% of adults are so seriously affected that they are unable to perform routine activities for at least three months (National Comorbidity Survey Replication).

In all, 20% of Americans are affected by a form of mental illness. Of those, less than half receive treatment due to social stigma and lack of health care access.

Other Psychological Conditions

Serious psychological conditions are characterized by distressed thought patterns, mood, behavior or general ability to function. Certain mental illnesses have been linked to harmful conditions such as chronic illness, weight gain, headaches, digestive issues, stress, fatigue, reduced sex drive, difficulty concentrating and a host of other problems.

Here are some of the most common psychological conditions:

  • Panic disorder: marked by sudden overwhelming attacks of anxiety and terror. Some people report attacks so severe that they believed they were having a heart attack and were going to die.
  • Major depression: often associated with persistent despair, disruptions in sleep and thoughts of suicide.
  • Bipolar disorder: also known as manic-depression, it is marked by extreme mood swings which alternate between euphoria and despair.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder: can bring about nightmares and vivid flashbacks of a traumatic event.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders: illogical behaviors-such as compulsive hand-washing or checking and rechecking locked doors-that are severe enough to impair a person's quality of life.
  • Phobias: irrational, persistent fears of situations, activities, things, or people. Phobias like social anxiety disorder (fear of social situations), agoraphobia (fear of open spaces) and a host of others can become serious enough to interfere or inhibit normal daily life.
  • Health Insurance - The First Step to Beating Depression and Mental Illness

    If you're suffering from a mental illness, having access to a proper health insurance policy is key. With health insurance, you'll have more reasonable access to mental health professionals, emergency care, and affordable medication.

    Investing in a health insurance policy can put your life on the right track. Shopping for a health insurance policy online is an easy and secure way to compare health insurance quotes from several leading companies.