A new survey suggests that people with depression are more likely to seek help from doctors and psychiatrists, and are more often diagnosed than those who don’t have depression.
The survey from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which was conducted from March 23 to April 3, asked 1,000 adults about their feelings about depression and what kinds of help they’d like to receive.
About one-third of respondents said they’d feel better if someone offered them help, compared with only about one-quarter of those who didn’t have depressive symptoms.
More than half of those with depression had sought help at least once in the past 12 months, and more than a quarter of those were seeking it now.
The research suggests that depression and the stigma associated with it can make people less likely to get the help they need.
The study is based on a survey of more than 1,400 adults that included questions about depression symptoms, doctors’ diagnoses, treatment, and outcomes.
The results are preliminary, and researchers aren’t sure what the results might mean for people who are diagnosed with depression and don’t respond well to treatment.
But they are encouraging, said Dr. Matthew C. Cottrell, the survey’s co-author and professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
“It’s really encouraging to see that we are finding that people who have depression have a lot of different ways in which they’re able to seek care for their condition, and that the diagnosis can be a barrier to seeking care,” Cottrel said.
“I think it’s encouraging that we’re finding that this is a major problem for people.”
For those who are seeking help, the results show that a high percentage of those surveyed say that they have had at least one therapist in the last year, compared to about 20% of those without depression.
And those seeking treatment are more than twice as likely as those not seeking treatment to say they’ve used a depression treatment at least twice in the previous year.
About 6% of the participants said they’ve been prescribed a depression medication, compared inpatient or outpatient, while 4% reported that they had been treated at least weekly.
A higher percentage of people seeking treatment said they were offered an appointment to discuss their depression, compared the results of those not receiving treatment.
About half of the people seeking help are using medications at least occasionally to manage their symptoms.
About 1% said they use antidepressants daily, and less than 1% say they use them regularly.
About 4% said their medication was for anxiety and 4% used an antipsychotic medication daily.
More people with depressive symptoms said they felt depressed in the first two weeks of treatment compared to those who weren’t depressed.
About 3% of people with the disorder reported having suicidal thoughts in the week before they started treatment, compared only to about 2% of non-depressed people.
The majority of people who sought help said they sought treatment for depression because they felt suicidal or needed help with their anxiety.
People who were seeking help for depression were also more likely than non-seeking patients to say that their anxiety and depression worsened over the course of the next year.
People in treatment also were more likely in general to have been prescribed antidepressants at least three times in the year before treatment, but that percentage was smaller for people in the study who were treated with antidepressants and people who were not treated.
The numbers of people in treatment who reported worsening of their symptoms did not differ by whether they were receiving medication or not.
More broadly, people in therapy who were prescribed antidepressants in the next two years were more than four times more likely, on average, to have seen a doctor for a depressive episode in the three months before treatment.
And people in outpatient treatment were more likelier to report seeing a doctor once a month or more than people who weren�t in treatment.
Those in the treatment group who had depression in the month before treatment were about 10 times more similar to people who didn�t have depression in that same period.
People with depression in outpatient and inpatient treatment were also about 10-fold more likely on average to have sought treatment, Cottll said.
And more people in their 30s and older were in treatment in the five years prior to diagnosis.
People were more aware of depression and mental health stigma when seeking treatment, although not as much as they were in outpatient or inpatient settings.
The findings were published online May 18 in the journal PLOS ONE.
Related resources Depression and the Diagnosis of a Disorder: Find more articles