NEWARK - A study by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield has found that 3.5 percent of their insurance policy holders suffer from major depression — and women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed.

Suzanne Kunis, Horizon's Behavioral Health Solutions Director, said the disproportionate diagnoses stem from a mix of postpartum depression and women being more likely to report their symptoms.

"Looking at how guys are raised, how men grow up, and talking about your feelings has not been high on the hit parade," she said. "I'm really thrilled to see that younger kids coming up are in a whole different place than the older generations."

Kunis compared depression to any other physical health problem. Like diabetes or a heart condition, people diagnosed with depression should seek help from a doctor.

The study also found that 15 percent of the 57,200 policy holders diagnosed with depression have been diagnosed with at least one other behavioral disorder, including bipolar disorder, substance abuse disorder or anxiety. According to Kunis, when these illnesses are combined, the cost of care can more than double compared to those diagnosed with just one behavioral health issue.

"The higher you go up on that continuum, in terms of numbers of issues, the higher your costs are going to be, exponentially."

Nationwide the rate of depression diagnoses is 4.4 percent, affecting more than 9 million people.

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