The National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association consensus statement on the undertreatment of depression
Mental Health Services
There is overwhelming evidence that individuals with depression are being seriously undertreated. Safe, effective, and economical treatments are available. The cost to individuals and society of this undertreatment is substantial. Long suffering, suicide, occupational impairment, and impairment in interpersonal and family relationships exist. Efforts to redress this gap have included provider educational programs and public educational programs. Reasons for the continuing gap include patient, provider, and health care system factors. Patient-based reasons include failure to recognize the symptoms, underestimating the severity, limited access, reluctance to see a mental health care specialist due to stigma, noncompliance with treatment, and lack of health insurance. Provider factors include poor professional school education about depression, limited training in interpersonal skills, stigma, inadequate time to evaluate and treat depression, failure to consider psychotherapeutic approaches, and prescription of inadequate doses of antidepressant medication for inadequate durations. Mental health care systems create barriers to receiving optimal treatment. Strategies to narrow the gap include enhancing the role of patients and families as participants in care and advocates; developing performance standards for behavioral health care systems, including incentives for positive identification, assessment, and treatment of depression; enhancing educational programs for providers and the public; enhancing collaboration among provider subtypes (eg, primary care providers and mental health professionals); and conducting research on development and testing of new treatments for depression.