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The country is in the throes of one of the worst overall winters I’ve seen in a long time. The Midwest and Northeast have been pounded unmercifully and places like Oklahoma and Texas who occasionally see a dusting of snow and cool weather have been buried in snow and flirted with zero degrees.

It used to be called cabin fever when the winter just kept kicking our rears. We’re much more sophisticated about our rears getting kicked now so we call it situational depression. The good news is that today we have some ways to deal with the whole thing. My preferred method is a week or two on the beach in Belize, but the more practical method is one of the many anti depression medications available today. They’ve lost the stigma they had when I was younger. Now the water cooler discussions about depression aren’t whispered about poor so and so having to take drugs and see a shrink. Today the discussion is more likely to be about which drug each person is taking and why each person thinks their treatment is the best route.

What hasn’t become more sophisticated depression life insurance underwriting with the majority of companies. Most companies still underwrite situational depression just the same as chronic depression. If there’s a mood disorder and a drug to treat it you can expect to be no better than a standard rate with almost all life insurance companies. But some underwriters have drifted over to the new water cooler and are understanding that depression isn’t very often as horrible as it can be, and taking medication is a prudent, proactive way to get on with life.

With millions of Americans suffering from depression, anxiety , ADHD and bipolar disorder, it’s imperative that life insurance underwriting makes a clear distinction between a disorder that is well controlled and not. I think everyone understands the mortality risk with poorly controlled mood disorders. It’s not all about suicide although that risk is present. It’s also about a lack of attention to health and a lack of attention to those everyday details in life that can cause you harm. Stoplights would be a good example. I know for myself when I am down I am less focused, not because I have a death wish, but because I’m depressed and less focused.

Throw in the words well controlled and the whole outlook and perceived risk changes. These are the people who, unless they tell you around the water cooler, will never give you any reason to believe that they are mood challenged. These are the people who, given the right agent, right company and right underwriter will be seen as having no more risk than someone with well controlled hypertension or cholesterol.

Bottom line. With our country in the grip of cabin fever let’s hope that the underwriters are taking their Prozac so they don’t let their mood spill over into their decisions. If their mood is well controlled they should be approving the cases I talked about at preferred rates or better.