WHO South-East Asia Journal of Public Health
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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 12-17

Depression and physical noncommunicable diseases: The need for an integrated approach

1 World Health Organization Regional Office for South-East Asia, New Delhi, India
2 Department of Psychiatry, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry, India
3 National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre and Department of Psychiatry, All Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Yatan Pal Singh Balhara
National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre and Department of Psychiatry, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi
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DOI: 10.4103/2224-3151.206158

PMID: 28597853

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Depression is globally the third-leading cause of disability in terms of disability-adjusted life-years. Depression in patients with diseases such as cancer, diabetes mellitus, stroke or cardiovascular disease is 2-4-fold more prevalent than in people who do not have physical noncommunicable diseases, and may have a more prolonged course. The significant burden due to depression that is comorbid with chronic physical disease, coupled with limited resources, makes it a major public health challenge for low- and middle-income countries. Given the bidirectional relation between depression and chronic physical disease, the clear way forward in managing this population of patients is via a system in which mental health care is integrated with primary care. Central to this integrated approach is the Collaborative Care Model, adapted to the local sociocultural context. In this model, care is jointly led by the primary care physician, supported by a case manager and a mental health professional. Various successful initiatives in low- and middle-income countries may be used as templates for collaborative care in other low-resource settings. The model involves a range of interwoven components, such as capacity-building, task-sharing, task-shifting, developing good referral and linkage systems, anti-stigma initiatives and lifestyle modifications. Policies based on adoption of this approach would not only directly address depression that is comorbid with physical noncommunicable disease but also facilitate achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 3, to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”.

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