A decade ago, you might have had trouble qualifying for better-than-standard life insurance rates if you had been treated for mild depression.

But today the outlook is much brighter.

Now that much more is known about the effectiveness and side effects of antidepressant medications, life insurance companies are more comfortable with insuring people who have been treated for the disorder. In many cases, it's possible to qualify for preferred ratings with a history of depression, as long the condition is under control.

More than 16 percent of the U.S. population suffers from depression at some point in their lives, which makes the condition one of the most common mental disorders, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Although depression is a serious illness, even severe cases are treatable.

That doesn't mean, though, that life insurance companies ignore depression or anxiety. When you apply for coverage, they typically want to see details about your condition and treatment. Here are three important factors insurance companies consider:

  • Severity. You're more likely to qualify for better rates if you suffered from an episode of depression tied to a difficult life event, such as divorce or the death of a spouse. Chronic depression or hospitalization for depression could put you in a riskier category and cause life insurance rates to go up.
  • Treatment. Life insurance companies want to know how your depression was treated. The more complex the treatment, the more likely you are to get higher life insurance quotes. Your chances of qualifying for preferred rates are much better if you were successfully treated with one medication than if treatment required two or more medications. Life insurance companies also want details of the dosage of medications and how long you took or have been taking them.
  • Control and compliance. Whether your condition is under control and how it is monitored is an important factor. If you're currently being treated for depression, the life insurance company wants the assurance that you're regularly seeing your doctors and complying with their medical directions.

Compare life insurance quotes from several carriers. Each life insurance company handles underwriting differently, and one might offer better rates for someone with a history of depression than another.

Be honest with your life insurance agent about your history of depression, and don't be afraid to provide medical information to document treatment. The more documentation life insurance companies have that your depression was successfully treated or is currently under good control, the better your chances are of qualifying for coverage at the best rates.