A new study shows that depression is not correctly diagnosed and treated. Therefore, many sick people do not receive help and, on the other hand, many other adults receive medication although they don’t have the disease.
Columbia University researchers analyzed data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and discovered that 29% of the adults that had been diagnosed with depression between 2012 and 2013 received treatment in the following year.
Another conclusion was that patients less psychologically distressed received treatment for reasons that had no clinical justification.
The Depression Study
The authors say that the diagnosis and treatment of depressive moods and affections are not aligned, and doctors should pay more attention to offering depressive patients the clinical care they would need.
Other studies have shown that half of the adults that had a history of major depressive disorder have never received any treatment. However, the prescribed antidepressants went up in the last years.
The medical data included the records of 46,417 adults. Out of them, 8.4% had been diagnosed with depression, and only a third of the depressed people would receive treatment for their condition.
When looking into the patients that received medication for depression, only 30% of them had depression. Moreover, only 22% of them had a serious psychological condition.
Errors in Diagnosis and Treatment
The researchers could not find any reason for the trend. They believe that doctors tend to overestimate the effects and the efficiency of antidepressants, and therefore they prescribe them for mild depression.
Another cause may be that physicians do not have enough time to offer alternatives in mild depression treatment. A third explanation is that not all clinical assessments are correct.
The authors suggest that doctors will need to take up a new routine assessment with a focus on the severity of the psychological condition.
The rates of treatment were even lower in the case of ethnic and racial minorities than the average of the group.
Even though the survey followed people on a fairly short term, the study still shows the gaps present in mental care. One solution would be introducing in primary care the depression screening tools needed to identify people who need treatment, and then to guide them to an appropriate cure option.
Other health experts say that the study reflects a real problem in the treatment of depressive people. The individuals with low incomes that do not have insurance and those who are less educated are more at risk of not receiving the correct treatment.
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