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Description: If you had a psychology course containing a section looking at the identification and treatment of depression then you are probably holding some version of the belief that the diagnosis and treatment of depression was a relatively straightforward and consistent matter. With that belief in mind read the article linked below and see if you find the research findings it reports upon surprising.

Source: Depression Is Poorly Diagnosed and Often Goes Untreated, Well, Mind, New York Times.

Date: Sept 1, 2016


Photo Credit:  Stuart Bradford

Links:  Article Link —

Okay, are you surprised? There are number of findings noted in the article that should be surprising. The first is that over 8% of the people interviewed were depressed. The second is that of those less than a third had actually received any treatment for depression. In the third surprising finding was that of those being treated for depression again less than one third had actually screened positively for the disorder. The article contains no information about who if anyone the individuals with depression consulted (a GP? A psychologist? A psychiatrist? Anyone?). Further, it offers no information about why it might be that such a high proportion of individuals with depression have avoided, evaded, or simply missed opportunities to obtain treatment.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Assuming that the results reported in the article are even vaguely reliable and valid how might it be that more than two thirds of individuals with depression are going untreated?
  2. Alternatively to the above, again assuming that the results reported in the article are even vaguely reliable and valid, how might it be that over two thirds of individuals receiving treatment for depression may not actually have screened positive for the disorder?
  3. What recommendations might you offer to the health system and to mental health administrators and providers to address the issues raised within this article? What additional research might it be helpful to have?

References (Read Further):

Olfson, M., Blanco, C., & Marcus, S. C. (2016). Treatment of Adult Depression in the United States. JAMA Internal Medicine.

Kessler, R. C., Berglund, P., Demler, O., Jin, R., Koretz, D., Merikangas, K. R., … & Wang, P. S. (2003). The epidemiology of major depressive disorder: results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R). Jama, 289(23), 3095-3105.

Pignone, M. P., Gaynes, B. N., Rushton, J. L., Burchell, C. M., Orleans, C. T., Mulrow, C. D., & Lohr, K. N. (2002). Screening for depression in adults: a summary of the evidence for the US Preventive Services Task Force. Annals of internal medicine, 136(10), 765-776.

NPR Article on same study: