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Mental health woes remain one of the top reasons for doctor visits

Depression and other mental health problems prompted 156 million visits to doctors' offices, clinics, and hospital outpatient departments in 2005. Problems with mental health were one of the top three reasons for Americans to seek treatment. Also, the number of mental health visits has increased 30 percent since 1996.

The other top reasons for getting non-emergency ambulatory care in 2005 included:

  • Back problems prompted 139 million visits and cost $17.6 billion.
  • Trauma-related disorders, such as fractures, prompted 133 million visits that cost $27 billion.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma, grouped together, resulted in 93 million visits that cost $12 billion.
  • High blood pressure resulted in 79 million visits and cost $10 billion.

These data are taken from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS). Go to the MEPS Web site for tables with the medical care costs of other conditions in 2005 at

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