Medical Conditions: Depression

Hams v. Liberty Northwest Insurance Corporation [2/10/00] 2000 MTWCC 6 WCC WCC resolved conflict in opinions of two physicians to find claimant had not reached MMI because further medical treatment, on a more probable than not basis, would significantly improve claimant's depression and head, neck and myofascial pain. Significant to court's decision to credit one physician were facts that other doctor had not reviewed pre-injury medical records, was not the treating physician, did not address some causation issues, and agreed that a change in medications and elimination of caffeine and tobacco should improve claimant's symptoms. Court ordered reinstatement of TTD benefits retroactive to date of discontinuation.

McGee v. State Compensation Insurance Fund [7/22/99] 1999 MTWCC 43 Evidence from several psychologists and a psychiatrist suggested claimant had significant psychological disturbances pre-injury, but suffered depression following his injury when he was no longer able to cope "by working hard to ‘work off' his aggravations." WCC held that even if claimant's depression was pre-existing to some extent, it was materially and permanently aggravated by his injury and was thus compensable.
Winfield v. State Compensation Insurance Fund [7/20/99] 1999 MTWCC 41. Where psychologist's testimony indicated claimant's depression arose from his disability and pain following injury, the impact of the depression on his experience of pain and on his ability to work was among the factor's considered by the Court as indicating PTD. However, the Court noted that treatment of depression may change claimant's inability to engage in work on a regular, sustained basis.
Wall v. National Union Fire Ins. Co. [2/24/98] 1998 MTWCC 11 Where psychologist opined that claimant's depression was in response to the life adjustments necessitated by his injury and to the frustrations resulting from the continuing court processes that have been necessary to redress his injury, and insurer's conduct in adjusting the case was not reasonable, the depression was related to his injury and its treatment compensable.
Peterson v. State Comp. Ins. Fund [11/23/94] 1994 MTWCC 105 Although the 1987 Legislature amended the definition of compensable injuries to exclude mental conditions “arising from (a) emotional or mental stress; or (b) a non physical stimulus or activity,” mental conditions remain compensable when caused or aggravated by physical injuries meeting the statutory definition of compensable industrial injury. Where persuasive psychiatric evidence indicated that claimant suffered from depression or a somatoform disorder caused by his physical injury, he is entitled to ongoing temporary total disability benefits as long as he is disabled by the resulting mental condition, but those benefits are conditioned on him following reasonable medical and psychological advice. Given medical evidence, including evidence that claimant improved previously when on psychiatric medication, a psychiatric referral is appropriate if not essential.