Most people with depression receive inadequate treatment or no care at all

November 30, 2016, King's College London
Credit: George Hodan/Public Domain

The vast majority of people with depression across the world are not receiving even minimally adequate treatment for their condition, according to a new study of more than 50,000 people in 21 countries by King's College London, Harvard Medical School and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The research, published today in the British Journal of Psychiatry, reports that of 4,331 with depression across all 21 countries, treatment rates vary widely. In high income countries only one in five people with depression receive adequate treatment. The situation in the of the world is far worse, where one in 27 people with depression receive adequate treatment.

Globally, an estimated 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression, and the condition is the leading cause of disability worldwide. There is an increasing awareness that depression can be reliably diagnosed and treated in primary care settings using psychological therapy or medication, yet these scientifically proven and effective treatments are not being delivered on a wide scale.

The researchers analysed data from the WHO World Mental Health Surveys, a series of 23 community surveys in 21 countries. These included 10 low or (Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Iraq, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, People's Republic of China (PRC), Peru and Romania) and 11 high income countries (Argentina, Belgium, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the USA).

The researchers defined minimally adequate treatment as receiving either pharmacotherapy (at least one month of medication plus four or more visits to a doctor) or psychotherapy (at least eight visits with any professional including religious or spiritual advisor, social worker or counsellor).

Professor Graham Thornicroft from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King's College London, who led the study, said: 'We call on national and international organisations to make adequate resources available for scaling up the provision of so that no one with depression is left behind. Our results indicate that much treatment currently offered to people with depression falls far short of the criteria for evidence-based and effective treatment.

'Intriguingly, about half of all people with depression did not think they had a problem that needed treatment and this proportion fell to only a third in the poorest . This strongly suggests that we also need to support people with depression and their family members to recognise that they have a treatable condition and should seek treatment and care.'

Professor Thornicroft added: 'Providing at the scale required to treat all people with is crucial, not only for decreasing disability and death by suicide, but also from a moral and human rights perspective, and to help people to be fully productive members of society.'

This study was carried out in conjunction with the World Health Organization World Mental Health (WMH) Survey Initiative.

Explore further: Half of patients with depression are inadequately treated

Related Stories

Half of patients with depression are inadequately treated

July 15, 2016
New UBC research shows that about 50 per cent of British Columbians with depression are not receiving even the most basic level of care. Authors say the findings highlight the challenges of accessing mental health services ...

Less than one-third of adults with depression receive treatment

August 29, 2016
New findings suggest that most Americans with depression receive no treatment, while raising the possibility that overtreatment of depression is also widespread. Less than a third of American adults who screened positive ...

Health experts report US$246 billion cost of workplace depression across eight countries

September 27, 2016
New data released today shows that workplace depression is a major issue across different cultures and economies, with "wide and devastating" consequences for thousands of organisations worldwide.

350 million people have depression in world: WHO

October 9, 2012
More than 350 million people suffer from depression globally, the World Health Organization said, ahead of World Mental Health Day on Wednesday.

Personalized doctor office interventions show small potential for preventing depression

March 28, 2016
Personalized primary care-delivered interventions may hold some promise for preventing major depression in adults, according to an article published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Researcher says mental health services need to be made more 'attractive' and accessible to men

February 20, 2015
With the 2013 suicide figures released today, Professor Shirley Reynolds, Director of the University of Reading's Charlie Waller Institute for Evidence-Based Psychological Treatment, provides comment: 

Recommended for you

Study: No evidence to support link between violent video games and behaviour

January 16, 2018
Researchers at the University of York have found no evidence to support the theory that video games make players more violent.

Study listens in on speech development in early childhood

January 15, 2018
If you've ever listened in on two toddlers at play, you might have wondered how much of their babbling might get lost in translation. A new study from the University of Toronto provides surprising insights into how much children ...

Study suggests people dislike you more for humblebragging than for regular boasting

January 12, 2018
A team of researchers from Harvard University and UNC-Chapel Hill has conducted a study regarding humblebragging—in which a person boasts about an achievement but tries to make it sound less boastful by minimizing it—and ...

Can writing your 'to-do's' help you to doze? Study suggests jotting down tasks can speed the trip to dreamland

January 11, 2018
Writing a "to-do" list at bedtime may aid in falling asleep, according to a Baylor University study. Research compared sleep patterns of participants who took five minutes to write down upcoming duties versus participants ...

Study identifies brain circuit controlling social behavior

January 11, 2018
A new study by researchers at Roche in Basel, Switzerland has identified a key brain region of the neural circuit that controls social behavior. Increasing the activity of this region, called the habenula, led to social problems ...

Tamper-resistant oxycodone tablets have no impact on overall opioid use

January 11, 2018
The introduction of tamper-resistant opioid tablets does not have an effect on rates of opioid use or harms at a population level, according to a new study led by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at UNSW ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.