As a trauma surgeon, I see patients at their worst. Sometimes that isn’t that bad. Sometimes it is awful. Mental illness is something that we, as a nation, don’t really want to confront. There are Americans who have mental issues and they need health care. There. I said it.
About 1 in 13 Americans was suffering from depression at some point between 2009 and 2012, yet only 35% of people with severe depression and 20% of those with moderate depression said they had sought help from a mental health professional, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That’s troubling, the report authors write, because therapy combined with medication is “the most effective treatment for depression, especially for severe depression.” Drugs might be prescribed by a primary care doctor, but only a mental health specialist would conduct the type of therapy needed to get well.
The report, from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, offers a snapshot of the nation’s mental state during recent years.
The findings are based on interviews with a nationally representative group of American adults and teenagers who participated in the federal government’s ongoing National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. These volunteers answered a range of questions that assessed a variety of physical, cognitive and mood symptoms that are related to depression. Responses from people 12 years old and older were used to compile the report.
Overall, 2.9% of the participants had suffered “severe depressive symptoms” in the two weeks before they were interviewed, and another 4.7% had “moderate depressive symptoms,” the researchers found. Americans in their 40s and 50s were the most likely to be depressed, with 9.8% having moderate or severe depression. They were followed by Americans between the ages of 18 and 39, with a 7.4% depression rate. The oldest (ages 60 and over) and the youngest (ages 12 to 17) people in the survey were the least likely to be depressed, with rates of 5.4% and 5.7% respectively. (more…)