A recent German study shows that a middle-aged worker who develops arthritis is much more likely to take a disability pension and retire early if she is feeling depressed than if she is struggling physically to perform her job but isn’t suffering mentally. Overall, musculoskeletal disorders such as arthritis are the most common cause (pdf) of early retirement in Europe.There are those who theorize about disability without having any real experience with the medical records of those who file disability claims. One of the most important things that these people miss is the complex interplay between physical illness and mental illness. Significant physical illness almost inevitably leads to depression of varying degrees. The depression tends to make the perception of pain and other symptoms worse -- and there is no meaningful difference between pain and its perception. Pain cannot exist without a person perceiving it. It shouldn't be hard to understand how this could produce a negative spiral. On the other hand, serious mental illness is associated with physical illness and early mortality. Again, it shouldn't be hard to understand that it can be impossible to separate out the strands of physical and mental illness in one individual. Dealing with this complexity is, for me anyway, one of the most interesting things about Social Security disability claims.
Jun 16, 2013
You Can't Separate Body From Mind
Ritchie King at Quartz (whatever that is):