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Fear of Antidepressants Keep Many From Disclosing Depression
Date:9/13/2011

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Sept. 13 (HealthDay News) -- For a nation that seems ready to pop a pill for any ill, a new study suggests that the opposite seems true for some people with symptoms of depression, whose concerns about the side effects of antidepressants were the top reason they wouldn't disclose warning signs to their doctors.

A phone survey of more than 1,000 adults who had previously participated in the California Behavioral Risk Factor Survey System, which probed depression-related beliefs, showed that 43 percent reported one or more reasons for not talking to their primary care physician about their depression. Nearly a quarter of them worried that their doctor would recommend antidepressants -- the most frequently cited reason for withholding the information.

Other stated barriers to sharing depressive symptoms included the belief that it's not a primary care physician's job to deal with emotional issues (16 percent) and concerns about medical record confidentiality (15 percent). At least 10 percent said they were fearful of being referred to a counselor or psychiatrist and of being labeled a psychiatric patient.

"When patients are diagnosed with depression, they can go into a state of shock emotionally and view it as some kind of indictment of personality or character," said Dr. Norman Sussman, a professor of psychiatry at New York University Langone Medical Center, who was not involved in the study. "People would almost prefer to get a serious medical diagnosis than be told they have a psychiatric disorder."

The study is published in the September/October 2011 issue of the Annals of Family Medicine, and was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health.

About 10 percent of Americans suffer from depression at any given time, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which released a report early this month
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