Depression, anxiety and chronic illness
Research suggests that over 40 per cent of people in Australia with a mental health condition have a chronic physical illness, and having a chronic physical illness puts a person at greater risk of developing depression.1 For people with a chronic physical illness, depression and anxiety makes recovery and management more difficult. It can make it harder for people to find the energy to eat healthily, exercise or take medication regularly.
Beyond Blue has undertaken research, developed resources and programs to increase awareness of depression and anxiety among people with a chronic illness. These are in line with the Australian Government’s chronic disease strategy which provides an overarching framework of national direction for improving chronic disease prevention and care, and also supports the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s nine health priority areas.
Screening, referral and treatment for depression in patients with coronary heart disease
Beyond Blue endorses the National Heart Foundation consensus statement on screening, referral and treatment for depression in patients with coronary heart disease.
Understanding the emotional reactions after a sudden, unexpected health event
When someone experiences an unexpected health event, such as a stroke, asthma attack, fall or heart attack, this can result in a number of physical changes and emotional responses. To educate hospital patients about the signs that may show that they could be experiencing depression and/or anxiety after such an event, Beyond Blue has developed initiatives with this focus.
Beyond Blue has supported a number of research projects that have investigated the relationship between chronic illness, depression and anxiety.
The Cardiac Blues project builds on research findings from the Bendigo Cardiac Study, conducted by the Heart Research Centre and funded by the Beyond Blue Victorian Centre of Excellence in 2008. The study found that many patients who experienced a strong emotional reaction at the time of, or soon after a cardiac event, were more likely to experience depression and anxiety if left untreated.
The Australian Centre for Heart Health, with funding from Beyond Blue, has developed a suite of resources for patients and health professionals to support emotional recovery after a heart attack or heart surgery. The resources provide information about common emotional responses to an acute cardiac event, and highlight ‘red flags’ which can indicate that a patient is at increased risk of developing depression.
An online training program and guide has also been developed for health professionals. The resources and further information can be accessed via the Australian Centre for Heart Health.
Preventing discrimination by insurance providers
Beyond Blue is working to improve access to insurance for people with mental health conditions.