Your physical health is not the only thing insurers will look at when assessing you as a potential risk. In life insurance, your mental health is just as important to determining our risk class and your premiums.
Mental health is experiencing an interesting revolution in the United States currently, calling for its de-stigmatization. With these changes, life insurance companies are slowly adjusting the way they view mental health disorders, particularly depression.
For individuals suffering from depression, these changes mean a variety of things. In this article, we will look at depression, its symptoms, treatment options and how life insurance companies will look at an applicant’s risk with this disease.
Before you read this article, we want to clarify something: The articles on this website are not intended to diagnose anyone with a depression or to belittle, stigmatize, or make light of depression and other mental health issues. The article you are about to read is specifically tailored to depression as it relates to life insurance underwriting, and may be a trigger for some individuals.
Depression: An Overview
Depression refers to a mood disorder, characterized by a loss of interest and persistent feelings of sadness. Types of the diseases, according to The National Institute of Mental Health, can include:
- Seasonal affective disorder, which occurs during the winter and is often caused by less exposure to sunlight. This form of depression occurs annually and may be characterized by weight gain, social withdrawal and an increase in sleeping.
- Perinatal depression (postpartum depression) occurs in women after giving birth. In most women, feelings of mild depression are normal within a few weeks after giving birth; however, perinatal depression presents itself in the same manner as severe depression. These feelings include sadness, anxiety and exhaustion and may make it difficult for mothers to care for their children or themselves during this time.
- Dysthymia, or Persistent depressive disorder can last for years, and may be accompanied by periods of less severe depression symptoms.
- Psychotic depression occurs in an individual with both depression and a form of psychosis. This can be delusions or hallucinations, and typically occurs as part of a theme of guilt, poverty or illness.
- Bipolar disorder actually differs drastically from depression in that it is characterized by extreme mood swings; however, individuals with this disease experience extreme lows that a align closely with severe depression symptoms. On the flip side, individuals with bipolar disorder also experience irritable or euphoric moods in addition to depressive-like lows.
As number of things can cause depression, such as the loss of a loved one or traumatic life events; however, chemical imbalances in the brain are most often pointed to as causes of the disease.
These continuous feelings of sadness are key characteristics of depression, and can lead to a variety of physical and emotional conditions. It is not uncommon for an individuals with depression to experience an inability to sleep or difficulty concentrating on daily tasks. Individuals suffering from depression also experience appetite changes, weight fluctuations, lower energy and occasionally thoughts of suicide.
This disease is treated through therapy sessions or certain drugs, which are designed to even out the brain’s chemical imbalance and to stabilize mood.
For applicants with depression, a cover letter is usually recommended, detailing the circumstances surrounding their disease.
For many insurance companies, the potential for suicide is a red flag – and any previous attempts may mark a candidate as incredibly high-risk, pending the surrounding circumstances.
Depression, and its many forms (including Manic Depression, or Bipolar Disorder) can be successfully treated with the help of certain medications. Your agent or insurer will want to know what medicines you are taking, and how long you have been on these medications, as many of them come with side effects that can impact your help, such as fatigue or insomnia or weight gain.
Depression, like any other high risk disease, will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, although most insurance companies will use the following information and categories for reference when underwriting applicants:
- Simple, reactive, mild depression: this category typically refers to grief-induced depression or depression lasting a few months, with no chronic pattern of the disease. In these instances, applicants will be able to earn a “Standard” rating, or a “Preferred” once the episode has passed.
- Reactive moderate depression: this category refers to depression that lasts longer than a few months, with mild or no history of depression. Applicants in this category will be able to earn a “Standard” rating, or may be charged a flat extra, depending on the details surrounding their case.
- Deeper depression or repeated moderate depression: this form of depression is typically treated by a professional or via medication. Insurance coverage may be postponed for up to one year following an episode, after which time “Standard” ratings may apply.
- Severe depression; Bipolar Disorder; Manic Depression: until good response to treatments is exhibited, individuals suffering from this type of depression will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Your Depression Doesn’t Have To Leave You Unprotected
Your mental health is important, and shopping for life insurance should not add any unnecessary stress or strain. For individuals with depression, it may add to a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness thinking that you cannot find affordable life insurance coverage for you and your family.
This is where we come in.
It is our commitment to our clients to make shopping for life insurance as stress-free and easy as possible. Come to us with your condition and your insurance needs, and we’ll do the work. It’s that simple. We have the tools, resources and knowledge at our disposal to find a policy to suit your needs almost every time. So give us a call today to find out how our agents can help you obtain a suitable policy.
If you are not already speaking to a licensed professional about your depression, there is help available to you. Please visit EveryDay Health for a list of resources and support groups available to you.
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