New Study Shows Half of Americans Do Not Get Treatment for Depression

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More than 16 percent of Americans -- as many as 35 million people, suffer from depression severe enough to warrant treatment at some time in their lives and many adults in the U.S. with major depression either do not get the treatment that could help according to a report in the January 2010 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

Hector M. Gonzales along with his colleagues at Wayne State University in Detroit analyzed data from the National Institutes of Mental Health's Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiology Surveys, which combined three nationally representative studies and during these studies did face-to-face interviews with 15,762 adults between 2001 and 2003.

Of all the people surveyed, 8.3% had major depression, including 8% of Mexican Americans, 11.8% of Puerto Ricans, 7.9% Caribbean blacks, 6.7% African Americans and 8.5% non-Latino whites and more than half of those with depression received at least one form of care, but only 21.3% of these received care according to treatment guidelines.

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The research team found that Mexican Americans were less likely to use antidepressants than white people. They also found that Mexican and African Americans without fail had a lower likelihood of receiving any type of care. Puerto Ricans and non-Latino whites, however, were twice as likely as Mexican Americans, Caribbean blacks and African Americans to use standard with treatment guidelines.

According to the authors of this research, these results display the importance of breaking down larger ethic and racial groups into subcategories. "Failing to do so obscures depression care research, especially for the largest and fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population, Latino individuals, and especially Mexican American individuals."

Researchers believe these results reveal that health care access is overlooked. Mexican-Americans showed the greatest inequalities in mental health care in the study and lack of health insurance partly explained their why they did not get treatment. Researchers noted that it did not explain the low rate of depression treatment among African-Americans.

Gonzales states, "With the recent passing of a U.S. Mental Health Parity Act, our findings should provide guidance to better-enabled mental health to improve the depression care of all Americans and for reducing disparities among ethnic/racial minorities."

Depression can be a serious medical condition and involves the body, mood, and thoughts. The majority of people with depression show improvement when they receive appropriate treatment.

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