A supplement in this edition of the Medical Journal of Australia examines the multiplying effect of depression and physical illness.
Supported by "beyondblue: the national depression initiative", the supplement includes research and commentary from leading mental health experts from throughout Australia.
AdvertisementProfessor of Psychological Medicine at Monash University, David Clarke, said the supplement addresses the complex relationship between depression and physical illness.
"Every clinician knows that depression is common in people with a physical illness," Prof Clarke said.
"But the enormous impact of depression has been freshly highlighted over recent years.
"Recent World Health Organization (WHO) world health surveys indicated that depression produced the greatest decrement in health of any chronic disease, and the comorbid state of depression incrementally worsened health more than any other disease combination."
Studies published in the supplement present evidence establishing a strong connection between physical illness and depression and anxiety, including effects on outcomes.
The experts agree that research is a key priority.
"It is the same person who is depressed, has the physical illness and is socially isolated, so it is not possible to deal effectively with any one of these aspects alone," Prof Clarke said.
"However, health care administration — at both government and health service levels — separates physical care from mental health care.
"This is not effective, efficient or cheap.
"It is now time to put into place structures that integrate physical and psychosocial health care. Such models do exist, but they need commitment and money to introduce and evaluate."