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Spokane depression rate higher than state, national averages

UPDATED: Thu., July 5, 2018, 3:42 p.m.

Spokane has a higher rate of depression than both Washington and the U.S., according to a study published last month from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

The data, based on billions of insurance claims, concludes that major depression impacts overall health more than any other diagnosis besides high blood pressure.

It found depression diagnoses have increased across the U.S. from 2014 to 2016, especially among teenagers and adults under 35.

In Spokane, 5.4 percent of people had a major depression diagnosis, compared to a national average of 4.4 percent. For women, those numbers were higher: 7.3 percent in Spokane versus 6 percent nationally.

The association includes 36 locally operated companies that collectively insure 106 million Americans. That network includes Premera, the Washington-based not-for-profit that insures about 2 million people.

People with major depression typically had higher health care costs than people without. On average, the cost of health care for people with a depression diagnosis was 1.5 times the cost for the overall population. People with major depression also had more outpatient visits, prescriptions, hospitalizations and inpatient stays than the general population.

Hawaii had the lowest major depression rate, at 2.1 percent. States in the Pacific Northwest, New England and other northern states, including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and North Dakota, had higher rates.

The rates don’t necessarily indicate how prevalent depression is in various states or among other demographic groups. They may also indicate how common screenings are, how easily people can access care to receive a diagnosis or how willing people are to see a health care provider for a mental health concern.

Editor’s note: This story was was changed on Thursday, July 5, 2018 to correct when the study was published. Information about when the study was published was incorrect due to an editor’s error.