Depression is commonly underreported, and it turns out the main reason people are afraid to talk about depressive feelings with their family doctor is the fear of being prescribed an antidepressant.
The study of 1,054 adults who were surveyed regarding their attitudes toward depression was published Monday in the Annals of Family Medicine.
Researchers queried patients not only about their beliefs about clinical depression, but also asked them why they wouldn’t tell their primary care physician about their depression symptoms. Out of the patients surveyed, 43 percent were hesitant to talk to their primary care physician about their depression symptoms.
The most common reason given for not wanting to talk to their doctor: not wanting to be put on medication. Over 23 percent said they did not want to go on antidepressants such as Wellbutrin, Effexor, Prozac or Paxil, which are some of the common psychiatric medications prescribed for depression.
Sixteen percent of patients said they didn’t think talking about emotional issues were a part of their physician’s job. They also worried about the privacy of their medical records, and expressed anxiety about who might have access to that information (such as their employer).
Another reason given was the fear of being referred to a mental health professional and the concern of being branded as a psychiatric patient with a mental disorder diagnosis.
Those least likely to talk to their physician about depression were more likely to be female, have a lower income, and have less education. People of Hispanic origin were also less likely to bring depression concerns to their family physician.
Other factors that influenced whether a person felt comfortable talking about depression with their doctor included the thought that being diagnosed with depression is stigmatizing, or if they had no history of depression. Some people mistakenly believed it was just a matter of willpower — that a person should be able to simply will their depression away.
The study was led by Robert Bell, Ph.D., of the University of California, Davis and colleagues.
Depression is one of the most common mental disorders diagnosed today. Although readily treated in most people through a combination of medication and psychotherapy, many people still fear acknowledging their depressive symptoms.
Clinical depression is thought to be caused by a combination of factors, including genetics, hormones, stress, environmental and family factors, and one’s psychological makeup.
Source: Annals of Family Medicine