Sunday, January 10, 2010

Few depressed Americans treated appropriately: study

Most Americans with major depression go untreated or under treated using a benchmark of American Psychiatric Association guidelines, according to a national study released this week.

Mexican Americans and African Americans are the least likely to receive treatment, especially treatment consistent with the guidelines, the study found. Those racial and ethnic disparities persisted regardless of health insurance coverage.

"Our findings support the conclusion that the U.S. mental health system is broken," Dr. Hector M. Gonzalez of Wayne State University, Detroit, and first author of the study, told Reuters Health by email.

The findings stem from interviews conducted between 2001 and 2003 with a diverse group of more than 15,000 Americans aged 18 and older.

A little more than 8 percent of the sample suffered from major depression, researchers found, including roughly 8 percent of Mexican Americans, Caribbean blacks, and non-Latino whites, and nearly 12 percent of Puerto Rican Americans.

Overall, only about half of those with depression received some type of treatment in the past year and less than a quarter had received "guideline-based" treatment, according to a report in the Archives of General Psychiatry.