Why people neglect treatment for depression

Animation of the cortical spreading depression
Animation of the cortical spreading depression (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I spoke to an individual some years ago regarding depression treatment. He stated the many reasons why individuals suffering from depression “eventually” get treatment and are never “untreated.” I was not only shocked by this statement but confused! I couldn’t understand what rose colored glasses the individual had been looking out of, but my lens tell me that about two thirds of individuals with depression rarely seek treatment.

The effects of no treatment include the following:

  1. Marital distress
  2. poor parent-child relationship(s)
  3. inadequate work performance
  4. arriving late to work due to poor sleeping habits
  5. Lack of appetite, no energy to perform daily chores or take care of responsibilities
  6. health problems such as high blood pressure, chronic migraine headaches, or muscle pain
  7. death (in severe cases)

Many individuals refuse to seek treatment for depression because of the following reasons:

  1. Fear of stigma: many individuals would rather suffer in silence as opposed to seeking treatment. Sadly, many believe treatment for depression will entail long-term therapy sessions, strong medication(s), and tiring visits to the doctor. But the reality is that depression treatment, depending on the severity of the depression, may simply include an antidepressant and therapy 1 time per week. Your PCP (primary care physician) may just prescribe you an antidepressant or give you a series of vitamin shots to lift your mood.
  2. Fear of losing job: Some places of employment become suspicious when an employee is receiving psychotherapy or mental health treatment. Although you have privacy and protection over healthcare records through HIPAA (health insurance portability and accountability act of 1996), some places of employment can and have previously terminated individuals for a mental health record.
  3. Pride and positivity: Seeking help can be difficult for individuals who have always been independent, self-sufficient, and confident. Individuals who have gained a reputation of being “positive” sometimes have trouble seeking treatment for depression. These things should not stop you from seeking treatment.
  4. Feeling like the feeling(s) will pass: Most people think that they can “shake” depression by acting happy, going out with others, being social, attending parties, etc. But the reality is that there is nothing that can “treat” depression but specific treatments themselves.

Don’t let these things keep you from seeking treatment. Life is difficult and we will all have to face a sad reality at one point in our lives. Some people need extra help and that is okay.

To read about coping skills for children/adolescents and adults, visit my sister-site: PsychCentral-caregivers, family, & friends.