More Koreans Seek Treatment for Depression, Bipolar Disorder

      June 03, 2011 07:35

      Some 2.65 million people in Korea have been treated for mental illnesses like depression and bipolar disorder in the last five years. Last year alone, depressive and bipolar patients spent over W1 trillion on treatment  (US$1=W1,081).

      According to a report by the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service submitted to Grand National Party lawmaker Sohn Sook-mi on Tuesday, the number of depression patients rose from 440,000 in 2006 to 517,000 in 2010, up 17.3 percent. Bipolar patients increased 29 percent from 42,530 to 54,792 over the same period.

      The cost of treating depression rose by 38.5 percent in five years, and for bipolar disorder by 60 percent. The total amount spent on treating the two illnesses last year was W1.12 trillion.

      Depression causes listlessness and decreased interest in life, while sufferers from bipolar disorder go through emotional extremes, with manic and depressive behaviors alternating. Bipolar patients who are in the depressive phase are at much greater risk of suicide than depressive patients.

      Prof. Lee Heon-jeong of Korea University's Anam Hospital, said, "Stress from excessive competition in our society is causing an increase in the number of depression and bipolar disorder cases and suicides. Regular daily habits and outdoor activities under sunlight can help treat these disorders."

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