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Chronic Depression is the Leading Cause of Disability in the World By Charles Donovan

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According to the landmark "Global Burden of Disease" study, mental disorders are the second leading source of disease burden in established market economies and major depression alone ranked as the leading causes of disability. Major depression takes an enormous toll on functional status, productivity, and quality of life, and is associated with elevated risk of heart disease and suicide.

In addition, the rate of treatment for depression is increasing dramatically in the United States. The annual economic burden of depression in the U.S. (including direct care, mortality, and morbidity costs) has been estimated to total nearly $44 billion. This combination of increasing burden and cost has stimulated numerous investigations into population-based strategies to prevent the occurrence of major depression and to encourage more effective treatment of depression, thereby limiting its course and preventing its recurrence.

This growing body of literature around population-based strategies to improve the primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention of depression, and the increasing burden of this debilitating chronic condition, the Task Force on Community Preventive Services has endorsed this topic for review. A review of one aspect of treatment—“collaborative” or “shared care”, designed to improve the diagnosis and treatment of depression in the primary care setting, particularly within integrated systems of care—has been completed, a recommendation has been issued by the Task Force, and a full report on this work will be issued by year-end. The Task Force recommends collaborative care for treatment of adults 18 years of age or older, with major depression, on the basis of strong evidence of effectiveness in improving short-term treatment outcomes.

The earlier you can get adequate treatment for your depression, the better chances you have of a positive outcome. About 15% of the population do not respond to traditional antidepressants. The FDA has just approved the first ever long-term treatment option for chronic or recurrent depression: vagus nerve stimulation. This is a ninety minute outpatient procedure, which is unrelted to ECT or shock treatments. The therapy completely changed my life. You can learn more about this remarkable treatment at

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Charles Donovan was a patient in the FDA investigational trial of vagus nerve stimulation as a treatment for chronic or recurrent treatment-resistant depression. He was implanted with the vagus nerve stimulator in April of 2001. He chronicles his journey from the grips of depression thanks to vagus nerve stimulation therapy in his book:

Out of the Black Hole: The Patient's Guide to Vagus Nerve Stimulation and Depression

The book was exhibited at the 2005 American

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