Depression-prevention research shows early, targeted intervention helps reduce incidence, severity, or duration of major depressive episodes to a clinically significant degree. And yet, the vast majority of people suffering from depression don’t seek treatment.
According to a study conducted by researchers from the World Health Organization, Harvard Medical School, and King's College London, only one in five people with depression living in the world’s richest countries will seek care for their mental health. In the poorest countries, that ratio drops to one in 27 people.
It’s important to understand the reasons why people might not seek depression treatment. In addition, you should know how to recognize the signs of depression so you can reach out for help when you need it.
Why People Don’t Get Treated for Their Depression
There are several reasons why a person might not receive treatment for their depression, including:
- There's still a stigma around depression.
- They become accustomed to living with their symptoms.
- They have a low perceived need and believe they can self-manage.
- They may feel hopeless that treatment could possibly help.
- They are unaware of treatment options outside of antidepressant drugs.
- Health professionals may focus on treating symptoms and not the cause, which could lead to a misdiagnosis.
- The warning signs of depression often go unnoticed.
Depression is treatable, and we’re failing those in need of treatment by accepting the reasons above. Because depression and other mood disorders are unique to the person suffering from them, we can end the stigma by sharing experiences, talking about successful depression treatment options, and learning how to recognize when you’re depressed.
Everyone goes through periods of deep sadness and grief, but at some point, it may cross from what is considered normal to depression. You go to the doctor when you’re sick, and in most cases, doctors are able to administer a test and diagnosis. This isn’t the case with depression. The physical symptoms caused by depression may be treated on the surface rather than addressing the underlying disorder.
As a general rule of thumb, to be diagnosed with depression, symptoms must be present for at least two weeks. Whether you know it or not, you may have been living with depression symptoms for some time. That’s why it’s important to do frequent depression self-checks. In addition, you should discuss both your mental and physical health with an experienced medical professional who can put your condition into context and recognize the symptoms for what they are.
To get started, take our nine-question Patient Health Questionnaire and discuss your responses and overall depression score with your doctor.
About the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9)
The Patient Health Questionnaire is a self-administered, multiple-choice report used by medical and mental health professionals as a screening and diagnostic tool to provisionally diagnose depression and grade severity of symptoms. With only nine questions, the carefully selected criteria make it a brief, reliable, and valid measure of depression severity.
Each question scores the criteria on a scale of “0” (not at all) to “3” (nearly every day), providing a 0-27 severity score. Major depression is diagnosed if five or more of the nine depressive symptom criteria have been present at least “more than half the days” in the past two weeks, and one of the symptoms is depressed mood or anhedonia. Other depression is diagnosed if two, three, or four depressive symptoms have been present at least “more than half the days” in the past two weeks, and one of the symptoms is depressed mood or anhedonia.
For analysis, the PHQ-9 divides scores into the following categories of increasing severity:
- 0-4 (Minimal Depression) – May not require treatment.
- 5-9 (Mild Depression) – May or may not require treatment. A medical professional will recommend a course of action based on duration of symptoms and functional impairment.
- 10-14 (Moderate Depression) – A treatment plan is recommended if you have Moderate Depression. Depression symptoms are more intense than Mild Depression and may cause problems at home, at work, or in your social life.
- 15-19 (Moderately Severe Depression) – Typically indicates Major Depression characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life.
- 20+ (Severe Depression) – Major Depression with decreased functional status and increased symptom-related difficulties, sick days, and healthcare utilization.
In a PHQ-9 study, scores of 10 to 14 represented a spectrum of patients. If you scored in this range, it is recommended to monitor and repeat the PHQ-9 periodically to track symptoms over time.
Depression is often treatable, even in severe or treatment-resistant cases. Though mood disorders manifest differently in each unique person, Ketamine Therapy has the highest success rate compared to other depression treatments. If you believe you may be suffering from anxiety or depression, take our Patient Health Questionnaire and schedule a call with our patient care staff to discuss whether Ketamine Therapy can help you.