Many adults who screen positive for depression don’t receive treatment

A new study suggests gaps exist in the treatment of depression with many individuals who screen positive for the mental health disorder not receiving treatment, according to an article published online by JAMA Internal Medicine. Previous research has suggested many adults with depression are not treated for their symptoms. Screening for depression has received increased attention with the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommending that adults be screened for depression and that follow-up services for treatment be provided. Thus, it is important to assess national treatment patterns for those who screen positive for depression.

Mark Olfson, M.D., M.P.H., of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York, and coauthors analyzed data from 46,417 adult responses to Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys in 2012 and 2013.

Of the 46,417 adults, 8.4 percent screened positive for depression and 28.7 percent of those adults received any treatment for depression, according to the results.

Overall, 8.1 percent of the 46,417 adults received any treatment for depression regardless of the results of a depression screen. Among all adults treated for depression, 29.9 percent had a positive depression screening and 21.8 percent had serious psychological distress, according to the results.

Antidepressants were the most common treatment for depression followed by psychotherapy. General medical professionals treated most people with depression; while patients with serious distress who were treated for depression were more likely to be treated by a psychiatrist than those patients with less distress, the results indicate.

Publicly insured individuals had some of the highest percentages of depression treatment, while some of the lowest percentages were among uninsured adults, racial and ethnic minorities and men, the authors report.

Study limitations include surveys that relied on respondent recall and diaries. Also, there is no information available concerning treatment outcomes.

“Among adults who receive depression care, it is important to align patients with appropriate treatments and health care professionals. With dissemination of integrated care models, opportunities exist to promote depression care that is neither too intensive nor insufficient for each patient’s clinical needs,” the study concludes.

Source: The JAMA Network Journals

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