A new government report released Wednesday shows that only about 39 percent of depressed teenagers in the U.S. receive treatment. Nearly one in 10 American adolescents have experience an episode of major depression.
Less than one third of adults receive treatment for a mental disorder, according to the Surgeon General’s report on mental health in 2001.
The study was conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and found that, not surprisingly, ability to pay (through health insurance coverage) was a major factor in whether or not treatment was received.
For instance, nearly 43 percent of adolescents suffering from depression who were covered by Medicaid/CHIP received treatment, as did nearly 41 percent of those covered by health insurance.
But only about 17 percent of adolescents without insurance coverage received treatment for their depression.
Among those children who did receive treatment for depression, about 59 percent saw or spoke with a psychotherapist, just under 37 percent interacted with a psychologist, about 27 percent saw or spoke with either a psychiatrist or psychotherapist, and more than 26 percent used a general practitioner or family doctor
Nearly 47 percent of teens surveyed received a prescription medication to treat their depression.
A major depressive episode was defined as a period of two weeks or more in which the person experienced depressed mood or loss of interest, plus at least four other symptoms such as change in functioning, trouble sleeping or eating and/or problems with concentration or self-image.
The report draws on data from SAMHSA’s 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which included information on a representative sampling of about 22,000 12- to 17-year-olds throughout the United States.