The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has narrowed its search down to three potential chronic conditions which include: asthma, arthritis, or depression. Before one specific disease domain can be talked about, some background on the prevalence (the number of people who have the disease) of each condition in the country of Canada must be discussed. According to Asthma Society of Canada (ASC) (2012), asthma can be described as a “chronic inflammatory disease of the airway” which causes shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, coughing, and wheezing.
By examining the statistics provided by Statistics Canada, the prevalence has been increasing over the past few years. In 2010, out of the entire population of 34 million (approximation) – 7. 21% had asthma – 1,016,082 males and 1,430,386 females, the cumulative statistics include age groups from 12 – 65 and over (Statistics Canada, 2010). It can be said that asthma is prevalent among a wide group of persons around Canada. According to PHAC (2003), arthritis is one of Canada’s most common chronic conditions which is the leading cause of pain, physical disability and use of health care services.
Arthritis makes up a large group (100 types) of disorders which affects the joints, ligaments, tendons, bones, and other components of the musculoskeletal system (ASC, 2012). Even though it is non-life-threatening, arthritis affected approximately 4,451,557 million people in the year of 2010 – 1,706,044 million being male and 2,745,513 million being female, in total affecting 13. 1% of Canada’s entire population during the year (Statistics Canada, 2010). The values include males and females from the age group of 15 – 65 and over.
Arthritis being quite common among the elder population, depression follows and has a greater toll on a wide range of populations among Canadians. Depression, in simple words can be described as the “ups” and “downs” in the daily lives of people (Canadian Mental Health Association, 2012). The chronic condition can be categorized into serious diseases such as mood disorders – depressive mood disorders (bipolar disorder), post-partum depression and psychosis (PHAC, 2009).
Stress is known to be a huge factor which later contributes to the emergence of depression which may occur due to the result of socio-economic factors such as income, housing, prejudice and workplace stress (PHAC, 2009). Statistics Canada shows various incidence rates according to mood disorders (5. 5% of the population in 2010, including both sexes), perceived life stress (19. 1% of the population in 2010, both sexes), and depression which also leads to suicide (1. 1% of the population in 2008, both sexes aged 10 – 90 and older).
As the prevalence rate over the entire country does not specify the population which it affects the most or the least, more information will be provided to encompass the ideas of specific sup-populations. Since the country’s overall statistics cannot identify certain individuals or groups who are targeted by these chronic disease domains, the prevalence of each condition must have specific stats which pertain to a high-risk group(s) in the entire population. As indicated by statistics Canada (2010), the rates of Asthma among women are higher by 1. 2% which accounts for 414,000 more women than men among all age groups.
The youth versus adult population has an increased prevalence in adults aged 45-64 surpassing the youth aged 12-19 by 1. 13% with a greater risk for the adults to have asthma compared to the young adults (Statistics Canada, 2010). Lastly for asthma, certain differences which appeared in different areas in 2010 include Quebec and Ontario. As provinces both are advanced, but from the statistical standpoint, it seems that Ontario is more industrialized than Quebec. A mere 1. 4% more Ontario Residents have Asthma when compared to Quebec in 2010, which roughly adds up to 355,000 more individuals (Statistics Canada, 2010).
This is due to the fact that the “triggers” for asthma are more prevalent in urban areas due to smog and other pollutants compared to rural areas. Thus, women have a higher risk for developing asthma compared to men. As for arthritis, on average in 2008, 15. 3% of Canadians who were aged 12 or older reported a diagnosis of the chronic condition. The prevalence of males was approximately 6. 5% lower than females, 1. 7 million and 2. 6 million; males and females respectively.
Another significant trend which arthritis has in Canada is that the prevalence of arthritis in youth is approximately 2. 3% (males and females) while the elderly are significantly at much greater risk. In the elderly 1 in 3 of males and 1 in 2 of females reported diagnosis of Arthritis in 2008 (Statcan, 2008). Last but not least, Aboriginal Canadians are hit harder by arthritis compared to non-Aboriginal Canadians. The aboriginal women are affected the most, a mere 70% aged 65 and older live with the disease, which is compared to the 50% of non-Aboriginal women in the same age group (The Arthritis Society, 2012).
The contrast between Aboriginal Canadians and non-Aboriginal Canadians may be due to the difference in cold temperatures which both different populations live in. Hence, the elderly are the most prone to developing arthritis. Depression being the third chronic condition, affects over 10-20% of Canadian youth specifically due to mental illness or disorder (CMHA, 2012). When adults are compared to Youth, 1 in 7 (consisting of 13. 4% of the population) will identify for symptoms which meet the criteria for a mood disorder – a form of depression (PHAC, 2009).
According to Health Canada (2009), statistics suggest that about 11% of males and 16% of women in Canada will experience major depression in the course of their lives. It is known as a fact that Ontarions (urban population) represent approximately 7. 49% of the Canadian population’s perceived life stress which evolves into depression, when compared to Quebec population (more rural) which represents 5. 09% (Statistics Canada, 2010). In urban areas depression is more prevalent due to the fast life, hence, the rates in rural areas are much lower due to less stress and the slow life.
The chronic condition which should be the next prevention priority must include depression when compared to the other two chronic conditions. Usually when people hear the word “depression”, it seems like that the individual is having his/her ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ but instead these normal experiences may lead to serious mental illnesses (PHAC, 2009). For the condition of depression a person does not have to be exposed to one specific cause but it can be normal everyday causes which makes it easy for the chronic condition to develop among the population.
Even though asthma and arthritis also are quite prevalent in the population, there are effective treatments which the population can rely upon and consult their physicians because of the symptoms. As for depression many individuals think of it as “a sign of personal weakness”, although it is not and should be recognized as an illness (Health Canada, 2009). According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, almost 50% of those who have suffered from depression or anxiety have never consulted a physician or seek help (CMHA, 2012).
There are many causes which lead to the depression of an individual, some may be genetically predisposed to depression and the risk may be increased by external factors such as: the death of illness of a spouse/family member, difficulties at work/ personal relationship, low self-esteem, financial difficulties, addictions (Health Canada, 2009). These contribute more towards health problems when compared to asthma and arthritis. Chronic conditions such as asthma and arthritis do not have such external factors but depression is even more targeted towards the population that individuals with other chronic conditions may develop depression.
The fact that it affects many groups of people including people of all ages, educational and income levels, and cultures makes it more easy to “catch” just as easily a cold is transmitted (CMHA, 2012). To cure this “cold”, individuals must consult their physicians; it is a fact that once people are diagnosed with depression, help can make a difference in 80% of people who are affected (CMHA, 2012). Depression often leads to mood disorders which lead to suicide. According to CMHA (2012), suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths which occur among 15- 24 year olds and 16% among 25-44 year olds.
All the social stigma present to mental illnesses presents a barrier in order for individuals to get help (CMHA, 2012) which must be eliminated in order to have a reduction in the prevalence of the chronic condition Canada-wide. In accordance with all the negative effects of depression, economic costs of mental illnesses take a great hit on Canada’s health care system ($7. 9B in 1998) (Health Canada, 2002). Even though economic cost numbers are from 1998, it suggests that the values have drastically increased today. Hence, the health care system also has to distribute funds evenly across chronic conditions in Canada to be more effective.