Only One-Third Of People Who Suffer Seek Treatment For Depression
According to the World Health Organization, 300 million worldwide suffer from major depressive disorder and is now considered to be the #1 cause of disability globally. A new study has found that among those newly diagnosed, only around one-third receive treatment – and that number is even lower for minorities and older adults.
The research, conducted by Kaiser Permanente, examined demographic information and health and insurance records to estimate the number of persons recently diagnosed with depression from 2010 to 2013. The analysis included 12 million people.
Of these millions, around 240,000 had been recently diagnosed with depression during the study period, and among these, less than 36 percent sought treatment in the next three months.
Some groups were even less likely to pursue treatment than others. For example, people aged 61 and older were only half as likely to receive treatment as those people under age 44. This trend may be due to reduced stigma and changing perceptions about mental illness and seeking treatment for it, as reflected in the younger generation.
Also, Asian and African-American and Hispanic subjects were less likely to obtain treatment for depression than whites, which suggests that race/ethnicity may be a factor that promotes resistance to treatment.
Of those who did receive treatment, the majority, or more than 80 percent, opted for antidepressants versus therapy. Oddly, minorities were more likely than whites to choose therapy instead of medication. Adults over age 75 were the least likely to participate in counseling (7 percent) while people aged 18-29 were the most likely (25 percent.)
Past research has also suggested a similar trend. For example, a recent study revealed that globally, people are not seeking treatment for depression, and when they do receive it, it is not adequate.
The authors concluded:
“…study results indicate that treatment…disparities persist. A better understanding of patient factors…that influence treatment initiation is needed to inform efforts by health care systems to improve depression treatment engagement and to reduce disparities.”
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology