|National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Depression Survey: Implications for Diverse Communities
December 10, 2009
Arlington, VA— Americans do not believe that they know much about depression, but are highly aware of the risks of not receiving care, according to a survey released in November by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
See full survey results at http://www2.nami.org/depression, an interactive Web site that includes resources for people of diverse communities.
Though depression is a common and highly treatable medical illness, research demonstrates that people of different cultural groups are at increased risk for untreated depression and suicide.
- One in five Latina teenagers in the United States has seriously considered or attempted suicide.
- More than 15 million Asian Americans live with depression; it’s the second leading cause of death for Asian American and Pacific Islanders.
- Misdiagnosis and under-treatment are common in the African American community. Only 12 percent of women seek treatment.
The survey provides 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 living with the illness.
Survey findings include:
- Nearly 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.
- When people living with depression discontinue medication or talk therapy, cost is a common reason, but other factors include a desire "to make it on my own" whether they believe treatment is working and in the case of medication, side effects.
- Almost 50 percent of caregivers who responded had been diagnosed with depression themselves, but only about 25 percent said they were engaged in treatment.
"The survey reveals gaps and guideposts on roads to recovery," said NAMI Executive Director Michael 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 health care reform."
The National Alliance on Mental Illness 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 1100 state and local affiliates that engage in research, education, support and advocacy.