The most common reason patients are not keen to disclose depressive symptoms to their doctors is their concern that they will be advised to take antidepressant medication, while others may think that it is not the job of a primary care physician (family doctor) to deal with mental problems, researchers from the University of California, Davis reported in Annals of Family Medicine. They added that a significant number of patients do not like the idea of being referred to a psychiatrist, or having their employers know about it.
In this study, Robert A. Bell, PhD, and team set out to determine why depressive symptoms are so underreported by patients. They carried out a telephone survey involving 1,054 adults who had taken part in the California Behavioral Risk Factor Survey System. They were asked whether they had not revealed details of their depressive symptoms to their family doctor (and if not, why not), some demographic details, and also some questions regarding their beliefs about depression.
They found that:
- 43% of the participants said they had at least one reason not to tell their doctors about their depression
- 22.9% did not tell their family doctor because they thought he/she would recommend antidepressants
- Individuals with no history of depression were more likely to think that a family physician does not deal with mental illness
- Those with no history of depression tend not to feel comfortable about being referred to a psychiatrist
- Those with more severe symptoms of depression rated 10 of 11 barriers to disclosure as relevant to their reasoning, compared to those without symptoms
- Females, Hispanics, and people of low socioeconomic status are more likely to be concerned about being stigmatized with depression, or believe that it is something that should be under their control
"Many adults subscribe to beliefs likely to inhibit explicit requests for help from their primary care physician during a depressive episode. Interventions should be developed to encourage patients to disclose their depression symptoms and physicians to ask about depression."
DepressionSadness and feeling "depressed" is a sensation that happens to everyone - it is not necessarily a sign of clinical depression. A depressive disorder occurs when the problem interferes with the daily life of an individual, when he or she cannot function properly - when people around the sufferer, especially those who care about him/her, are affected.
There are several types of depression, including major depressive disorder (major depression), dysthymic disorder (dysthymia), psychotic depression, postpartum depression (postnatal depression), SAD (seasonal affective disorder), and bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness). A number of mental conditions may have depression as an added condition, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Depression can affect people in a variety of ways; a set of symptoms that affects one person may not be the same as those that affect another. The most common signs and symptoms associated with depression may include:
- A continuous feeling of emptiness and sadness
- Prolonged anxiety
- Sleeping problems, this could be insomnia or sleeping too much
- Hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, are of no interest now
- Loss of libido (no interest in sex)
- Concentration problems, sometimes memory problems, difficulty making decisions
- Overeating, lack of appetite, change in eating habits
- Suicidal thoughts
- Headaches, digestive problems, aches and pains - which tend not to improve with standard treatments
Written by Christian Nordqvist