Social Determinants of Health in MDD: Part 2

Key social determinants of health impacting MDD are discussed by expert payer panelists.

Mona Chitre, PharmD, CGP: Every social determinant of health has the impact and the potential to exacerbate MDD [major depressive disorder]. MDD and social determinants of health have a unique relationship. Social determinants of health can trigger mental health disorders, and mental health disorders can cause someone to make poor life decisions that trigger social determinants of health.

Let’s talk about social determinants of health. I often say it’s anything in your environment that can enable you to thrive, be well, or see a positive future. In the mental health arena, some pop up frequently. In no particular order, one is safe housing. Is there a safe housing option for our members? Are they in a safe community? Are they free of trauma and stress? Food and transportation are some basics. Do they know where their next meal is going to come from? Do they have access to a physician’s office or a pharmacy? Income level is another. Income level has many triggers toward health care disparities in general. It affects health care literacy, access to care, and access to treatment. Is their job secure? Is it a toxic environment? Is it safe? Family relationships [are another factor]. That’s just to name a few. Is there a family support group? Any social determinant of health can trigger a mental health challenge, a mental health crisis, or a mental health disorder.

Jay Weaver, PharmD, MPH: I have to agree with Dr Chitre. Most of the things she outlined were spot on. The only thing I’d add would be some of the nutritional challenges. We’re coming to understand that there’s a link between the foods that we eat and have access to and our sense of well-being. Things like high-calorie foods and high-carbohydrate foods are typically less expensive than higher-quality foods. We also know that the amounts of sugar and other things in those foods can affect our mental well-being. Sometimes food insecurity plays into major depressive disorder in ways that we don’t fully understand.

Transcript edited for clarity.

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