Most Depressed Adults in the U.S. Remain Untreated

http://www.scientificamerican.com/

By Will Boggs MD

Only 28.7% of those who screened positive for depression received any treatment during the survey year

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Most adults in the U.S. who screen positive for depression are not being treated for depression, according to results from Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys (MEPS).

“With the recent increase in prescribing of antidepressant medications, many physicians might assume that undertreatment of depression is no longer a widespread problem,” Dr. Mark Olfson from College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute in New York City told Reuters Health by email. “This study makes clear, however, that most American adults who screen positive for depression receive no treatment for their symptoms.”

Surveys from the early 2000s show that about half of U.S. adults with a lifetime medical history of major depressive disorder had never received treatment for depression. Still, little is known about the extent to which adults with depression in the U.S. receive depression care and the extent to which such patients are matched based on their illness severity to appropriate treatments and healthcare professionals.

Dr. Olfson and colleagues used data from the 2012 and 2013 MEPS to examine the prevalence and treatment of adults with screen-positive depression (a Patient Health Questionnaire-2 score of 3 or less). They also assessed whether serious psychological distress was associated with more intensive treatment.

 

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