Depression and How It Impacts Life Insurance Prices

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People who actively manage their depression are better life insurance candidates?

life insurance anxietyAccording to the National Mental Health Association, clinical depression is a common, yet serious, illness that affects more than 19 million Americans each year; only one-third of sufferers will seek treatment even though the illness can be effectively treated in 80 percent of all cases.  One in five people will suffer from depression during his or her lifetime. In at least half of these cases it will go untreated because even though depression is classified as a real medical illness, it is regarded by many as a personal weakness.   Depression affects people of all ages, races, economic classes and genders, although women tend to suffer from depression almost twice as frequently as men. In America, depression is ranked second to heart disease as a cause of absenteeism from work.  Because of the risk it poses to personal health and employment, insurers will expect detailed medical histories, treatment plans and physician documentation to assure them that the condition is being managed and that the applicant is not a danger to him or herself before moving forward in the life insurance application process.

Depression Is More than the Blues

Depression is an illness that affects the entire body, not just the mind. It may be described as feeling sad, blue, unhappy, or miserable and will affect most people at one time or another for short periods. Clinical depression differs from “a case of the blues” in that it is a mood disorder, an illness. The feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration experienced interfere with the activities of everyday life for an extended period of time. Depression may be inherited, learned, or both. It can be triggered by alcohol or drug abuse, childhood abuse or neglect, chronic stress, the death of someone dear, prescription drugs such as sedatives and high blood pressure medications or medical conditions such as hypothyroidism or cancer.

Symptoms of depression that last longer than two weeks should be discussed with a physician. These symptoms include:

  • Trouble sleeping or excessive sleeping
  • Dramatic change in appetite, often with weight gain or loss
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness, self-hate, and inappropriate guilt
  • Extreme difficulty concentrating
  • Agitation, restlessness, and irritability
  • Inactivity and withdrawal from usual activities
  • Low self esteem
  • Sudden bursts of anger
  • Lack of pleasure from activities that normally make you happy, including sex
  • Social isolation
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

The symptoms experienced by a depressed child may differ from those experienced by an adult.  Concerned parents should monitor changes in a child’s school performance, sleep, and behavior if they are questioning whether or not the child is depressed. Discuss your observations with the doctor.

Demystifying and Classifying Depression

Major or minor depression – if five or more symptoms listed above are present for at least two weeks and continue for at least 6 months the depression is considered major; minor depression lists only two to four symptoms

Atypical depression — about a third of depressed patients experience symptoms that include overeating and oversleeping, a feeling of being weighed down and strong reactions to rejection

Dysthymia — a milder form of depression that lasts as long as two years

Postpartum depression – different from baby blues — a normal, mild, short-lived depression for a few days or weeks after childbirth — this condition affects about ten percent of new moms; it is a more severe form of depression that can develop within the first six months after giving birth and causes strong feelings of sadness, anxiety and restlessness that they interfere with daily tasks

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) — brought about by hormonal fluctuations, symptoms occur one week prior to menstruation and disappear after menstruation

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – occurs during the fall-winter season and disappears during the spring-summer season as duration of sunlight increases 

Bipolar disorder or manic depression — moods cycle between mania and depression

Anxiety/Panic disorder – anxiety is a generalized disorder characterized by unrealistic or excessive anxiety regarding more than one life issue; panic disorder is identified by recurrent attacks of intense fear and discomfort on an unpredictable basis.

Treatment Options for Depression

In more than 80 percent of cases, an individual can be successfully treated for depression. Left untreated, however, it is the leading cause of alcoholism, drug and other forms of substance abuse and suicide. Treatment plans correspond to the severity of symptoms and type of depression. Most effective treatment plans will employ a combination of counseling therapies and medication. No matter the type of depression, these generic lifestyle changes are recommended:

  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat a healthy, nutritious diet
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Avoid alcohol, marijuana, and other recreational drugs
  • Get involved in activities that make you happy, even if you don’t feel like it
  • Spend time with family and friends
  • Talk to clergy or spiritual advisors who may help give meaning to painful experiences
  • Consider prayer, meditation, tai chi, or biofeedback to relax or draw on your inner strengths
  • Add omega-3 fatty acids to your diet.
  • Take folate (vitamin B9) in the form of a multivitamin (400 to 800 micrograms).

Managing Depression is Key to Obtaining Life Insurance

Insurers are most concerned with steps an applicant takes to recover from depression and return to daily activities of living and working when determining eligibility. A letter from the doctor explaining how the applicant is coping with his or her condition by using lifestyle adjustments, therapy, and/or drug treatment is helpful to underwriters. In cases of mild and clinical depression, documentation of positive lifestyle changes that demonstrate an applicant’s efforts to eliminate the triggers for depression, such as changing jobs, joining new activities, ending a dysfunctional relationship, will positively affect insurability. In more complicated cases of depression, insurers will need hospitalization and medication records to determine if the person is considered a risk for suicide or other medical complications. It is not unusual for applications from severely depressed individuals to be deferred for a year or more following last hospitalization or depressive episode.

How Can MEG Financial Help?

At MEG Financial, we have worked with many individuals across the country that have had related histories and have helped many obtain fairly priced life insurance. A number of these clients previously attempted to buy life insurance elsewhere but were either turned down or asked to pay a significantly higher rate. Our experience helping others with related problems is invaluable to you in identifying the insurance company that will treat you most fairly.

For more specific information or to obtain a custom quote, call MEG Financial today at (877) 583-3955. You may also submit this short form and an independent insurance agent will personally contact you to go over any questions or other concerns.

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