Jan. 4, 2010 -- A new study shows only half of Americans with depression
receive any type of treatment for it, and certain minorities may face even
greater difficulties in getting the treatment they need.
Researchers found only one in five Americans suffering from clinical
depression receives treatment consistent with recommended guidelines.
In addition, Mexican-Americans, Caribbean blacks, and African-Americans with
depression were half as likely as others to receive any type of depression
treatment or the recommended care.
"Although depression is a leading cause of disability in the United States,
few Americans with recent major depression receive any
form of standard care and even fewer receive care that is concordant with the
American Psychiatric Association guideline," write researcher Hector M.
González, PhD, of Wayne State University in Detroit, and colleagues in the
Archives of General Psychiatry.
The recommended depression treatment depends
upon the individual's needs and often includes a combination of psychotherapy
In the study, researchers analyzed information from a nationwide survey of
15,762 adults conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health between 2001
The results showed 8.3% had depression, including 8% of Mexican-Americans,
11.8% of Puerto Ricans, 7.9% of Caribbean blacks, 6.7% of African-Americans,
and 8.5% of non-Latino whites.
Overall, 51% of those with depression received at least one form of
depression treatment, but only 21% received at least one form of depression
treatment that conformed to established treatment guidelines in the past
African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, and Caribbean blacks were the least
likely to receive any form of depression treatment with only 12%-14% receiving
any type of care.
Of those who received depression treatment, nearly 45% received
psychotherapy without any medication and 34% were prescribed antidepressants.
Researchers also found Mexican-Americans and African-Americans used
antidepressants less often than whites. The study showed that people who were
undergoing psychotherapy were more likely to receive depression treatment in
line with the recommended guidelines than those who received medications
Researchers say the results reveal disparities in health care access that
are often overlooked. For example, Mexican-Americans showed the greatest
inequalities in mental health care in the study. Lack of health insurance
partly explained their lack of adequate depression treatment but did not
explain the low rate of depression treatment among African-Americans.