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About Mental Health

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NATURE: Vol. 515

IF DEPRESSION WERE CANCER Research Into Depression Has Struggled, While Studies of Cancer Have Thrived – But the Balance Could Be Shifting

By HEIDI LEDFORD
November 13, 2014

If the extent of human suffering were used to decide which diseases deserve the most medical attention, then depression would be near the top of the list. More than 350 mil lion people are affected by depression, making it one of the most common disorders in the world. It is the biggest cause of disability, and as many as two-thirds of those who commit suicide have the condition.

But although depression is common, it is often ignored. Three-quarters of people with depression in the United Kingdom go undiagnosed or untreated — and even if the disorder is diagnosed, today’s medications will work well for only about half of those who seek help. “It’s unbelievable,” says Tom Foley, a psychiatrist at Newcastle University, UK. “If that was the case in cancer care, it would be an absolute scandal.” Read More