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In The US Over-Diagnosis And Over-Treatment Of Depression Is Common

Americans are over-diagnosed and over-treated for , according to a new study conducted at the . The study examines adults with clinician-identified depression and individuals who experienced within a 12-month period. It found that when assessed for using a structured interview, only 38.4 percent of adults with clinician-identified depression met the 12-month criteria for depression, despite the majority of participants being prescribed and using . The results are featured in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.

“Depression over-diagnosis and over-treatment is common in the U.S. and frankly the numbers are staggering,” said , PhD, author of the study and an associate professor with the Bloomberg School’s Department of Mental Health. “Among study participants who were 65 years old or older with clinician-identified depression, 6 out of every 7 did not meet the 12-month major-depressive-episodes criteria. While participants who did not meet the criteria used significantly fewer services and treatment contacts, the majority of both groups used prescription psychiatric medication.”

Using a sample of 5,639 participants from the 2009-2010 United States National Survey of Drug Use and Health, Mojtabai assessed clinician-identified depression based on questions about conditions that the participants were told they had by a doctor or other medical professional in the past 12 months. The study indicates that even among participants without a lifetime history of major or minor depression, a majority reported having taken prescription psychiatric medications.

“A number of factors likely contribute to the high false-positive rate of depression diagnosis in community settings, including the relatively low prevalence of depression in these settings, clinicians’ uncertainty about the diagnostic criteria and the ambiguity regarding sub-threshold syndromes,” said Mojtabai. “Previous evidence has highlighted the under-diagnosis and under-treatment of in community settings. The new data suggest that the under-diagnosis and under-treatment of many who are in need of treatment occurs in conjunction with the over-diagnosis and over-treatment of others who do not need such treatment. There is a need for improved targeting of diagnosis and treatment of depression and other mental disorders in these settings.”

Source

”Clinician-Identified Depression in Community Settings: Concordance with Structured-Interview Diagnoses,” was written by Ramin J. Mojtabai.
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health