A new study has found that many American adults suffering from depression are not getting the help they need. The study screened over 46,000 people and found that eight percent of them had depression. Unfortunately, only one-third of the depressed individuals were undergoing treatment. The reasons for this were quite varied.
Lead researcher Dr. Mark Olfson said, “Some adults who experience depressive symptoms do not believe they are significant and require medical attention, or that they could benefit from treatment.”
Other patients did not seek out medical treatment for their depression due to stigma and shame. Dr. Olfson added, “In still other cases, the medical visits are oriented around more pressing and urgent medical problems, and the clinical opportunities to detect depression are missed.”
The study also found that some patients were being over treated with antidepressants, but the study could not determine the exact percentage.
“Some patients with less prominent, milder forms of depression may request and receive antidepressants, despite evidence that these medications have little or no therapeutic benefit for mild depression,” Dr. Olfson continued.
Patients who were insured were more likely to get treatment for their depression, compared to those without medical insurance.
Simon Rego, chief psychologist at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine, added, “Despite our best efforts, we still have a long way to go when it comes to bridging the gap between our evidence-based treatments for depression and the people who need them most. For example, we should tailor our intervention efforts by focusing on increasing the integration of mental health services into primary care. This should help improve access to care in disadvantaged populations, as well as improve awareness of treatment options.”
The study was published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.