Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New Research on Depression

Americans do not believe they know much about depression but are highly aware of the risks of not receiving care, according to a survey released today by the NAMI National.

The survey reveals a "three-dimensional" measurement of responses from members of the general public who do not know anyone with depression, caregivers of adults diagnosed with depression, and adults actually living with the illness.
  • Seventy-one percent said they are not familiar with depression, but 68 percent or more know specific consequences that can come from not receiving treatment--including suicide.
  • Sixty-two percent believe they know some symptoms of depression, but 39 percent said they do not know many or any at all.

One major finding: almost 50 percent of caregivers who responded had been diagnosed with depression themselves, but only about 25 percent of them said they were engaged in treatment.
Almost 60 percent of people living with depression reported that they rely on their primary care physicians rather than mental health professionals for treatment. Medication and "talk therapy" are primary treatments--if a person can get them--but other options are helpful.
  • Fifteen percent of people living with depression use animal therapy with 54 percent finding it to be "extremely" or "quite" helpful. Those using prayer and physical exercise also ranked them high in helpfulness (47 percent and 40 percent respectively).
  • When people living with depression discontinue medication or talk therapy, cost is a common reason, but other significant factors include a desire "to make it on my own" and, in the case of medicine, side effects.
"The survey reveals gaps and guideposts on roads to recovery," said NAMI National Executive Director Michael J. Fitzpatrick. "It tells what has been found helpful in treating depression. It can help caregivers better anticipate stress that will confront them. It reflects issues that need to be part of ongoing health care reform."

"There are many treatment strategies," said NAMI Medical Director Ken Duckworth. "What often works is a combination of treatments that fit a person and their lifestyle."

"Research indicates that a combination of medication and psychotherapy are most effective. But physical exercise, prayer, music therapy, yoga, animal therapy and other practices all can play a role.

"The good news is that 80 percent or more of the public recognize that depression is a medical illness, affecting people of all ages, races and socioeconomic groups, which can be treated."

Harris Interactive conducted the survey for NAMI online between Sept. 29 and Oct. 7, 2009. Participants included 1,015 persons who did not known anyone diagnosed with depression, 513 persons living with depression and 263 caregivers of a family member or significant other diagnosed with depression.

See full survey results by clicking here.

All information above provide by NAMI National -- the National Alliance on Mental Illness -- which is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness.

NAMI has over 1,100 state and local affiliates, including NAMI Southwestern Pennsylvania, which provides support education and advocacy for individuals living with a mental illness, their families, professionals and the community.