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University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences 

Pitt Researchers Assert Preventing Depression Should be Global Priority

PITTSBURGH, March 26, 2012 ­– Prevention may offer new possibilities to reduce the global disease burden of depressive disorders, according to a Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Viewpoint written by faculty at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Depression prevention research and practice have progressed from a pioneering stage to one in which evidence-supported and cost-effective interventions can be disseminated on a larger scale, stated the piece, which was published this month. In fact, the viewpoint further asserts full use of evidence-based depression prevention strategies has yet to be realized.

“This gap between what is known and implementation of these strategies requires attention, action and the strengthening of research and dissemination efforts,” said Charles F. Reynolds III, M.D., the corresponding author and professor of psychiatry, neurology and neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Depressive disorders erode the quality of life, productivity in the workplace and fulfillment of social and familial roles, the authors said. Depression is part of a vicious circle of poverty, discrimination and poor mental health in middle- and low-income countries.

“Treatment costs of depression are soaring, but are only a fragment of the costs of reduced productivity due to depression,” said Reynolds, who also directs the Advanced Center for Intervention and Services Research for Late-Life Mood Disorders at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC.

The financial costs of averting one year lived with depression-related disability is below the current ceiling of $30,000 to $50,000 and is generally accepted by policymakers as cost effective, the viewpoint stated.

Reynolds directs the National Institute of Mental Health-funded Center for Late Life Depression Prevention and Treatment Research at Pitt. This Center of Excellence conducts studies in depression prevention among vulnerable older adults.

Authors also included Pim Cuijpers, Ph.D., of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Department of Clinical Psychology and Aartjan T.F. Beekman, M.D., Ph.D., of VU University Medical Center Amsterdam.

The authors of the viewpoint are part of the Global Consortium for Depression Prevention. This group, which convened last September, identified research priorities, which included studying how depression in one person has cascading or contagion effects on others and focusing on risk factors for developing mental disorders, such as sleep disturbance, social isolation and child abuse and neglect. Because preventive interventions are likely to have multiple effects beyond depression or mental illness, the consortium recommended measuring multiple outcomes beyond health, including economic, educational and social role functioning.

For more information about the Global Consortium for Depression Prevention, visit www.preventionofdepression.org.

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