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Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment

Lack of insurance often reason why, government report suggests

WEDNESDAY, May 13 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly one in 10 American adolescents have experienced at least one bout of major depression in the past year, but only about 39 percent of those cases received treatment, a new government report released Wednesday shows.

Conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the report found that health insurance coverage was a major deciding factor in whether or not treatment occurred. For example, 42.9 percent of adolescents suffering from depression who were covered by Medicaid/CHIP received treatment, as did 40.6 percent of those covered by health insurance. But only 17.2 percent of adolescents without insurance coverage received the depression treatment they needed, the SAMHSA report found.

Among those children who did receive treatment for depression, about 59 percent saw or spoke with a counselor, just under 37 percent interacted with a psychologist, 27.3 percent saw or spoke with either a psychiatrist or psychotherapist, 26.6 percent used a general practitioner or family doctor, and 46.8 percent received a prescription medication to treat their depression.

A major depressive episode was defined as a period of two weeks or more in which the person experienced depressed mood or loss of interest, plus at least four other symptoms such as change in functioning, trouble sleeping or eating and/or problems with concentration or self-image.

The report draws on data from SAMHSA's 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which included information on a representative sampling of about 22,000 12- to 17-year-olds throughout the United States.

More information

There's more on spotting and preventing depression among young people at the National Institutes of Health.

-- E.J. Mundell

SOURCE: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, news release, May 13, 2009

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