Minorities seeking treatment for major depression on the rise

Minorities seeking treatment for major depression on the rise

The world has seen big developments in various fields, but it seems the progress has not helped much in getting rid of the problem of racism. Even the most developed economy of the world is not free from the scourge of racism and bias. This was evident from the findings presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) from May 14-18, 2016 at Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.

At the meeting held to discuss the prevalence of various mental disorders in the country, a group of researchers highlighted some of the factors preventing various racial and ethnic groups from seeking necessary mental health treatment.

Relationship between ethnicity and mental health treatment

The researchers have revealed that there is a rise in the number of people being admitted to hospital for depression. Based on the National Inpatient Sample (NIS) data, the scientists stressed that the number of people seeking relief for their untreated depressive disorders may be more common among those belonging to the minority groups.

An analysis of the data showed that the number of patients hospitalized for depression treatment rose from 50,000 in 2008 to nearly 60,000 in 2012. Stressing on the findings, Dr. Ankur Patel of the Penn State Hershey Medical Center said, “Rates were highest among minority groups in the U.S., which indirectly shows that they are coming to the hospital at a later stage with more serious depression.” He said that there may be many reasons, including expenses involved and associated stigma, responsible for mentally ill people from various racial and ethnic groups not seeking necessary treatment. An assessment of the data also pinpointed that such people were more likely to seek treatment after manifestation of acute symptoms of depression.

Hospitalization trend helps understand depression treatment

The scientists assessed the data of patients admitted to hospitals from 2008 to 2012 after they were initially detected with major depression. It was observed that during this time period, 465,434 people had been hospitalized for major depressive disorder. Detailed assessment of the data revealed that there were 60,000 depression-related hospitalizations among whites. This was followed by nearly 10,000 blacks admitted to hospitals for depression-related treatment with approximately the same number of Hispanics also seeking therapeutic interventions for depressive disorders.

Apart from racial differences, the level of income also determined the number of hospitalizations for depression. It was found that a household income of below $40,000 was linked to increased number of hospitalizations. Also the expenditure on hospital stay was found to be most among black patients, followed by Hispanics. The cost of hospital stay was found to be more, compared with that spent by whites and native Americans.

Extending necessary care

The observations regarding more money spent by those belonging to the minority groups and the increased number of hospitalizations suggested the need to scan them for possible mental illnesses. Stressing on the need for primary care physicians to inquire about their mental health, the researchers said, “People might feel more comfortable with their primary care doctor than with a new doctor — as would be the case with picking out a psychiatrist — and revealing themselves and their life story.”

The scientists also emphasized on the role of primary care physicians in assessing their mental health and said that such people may find it more comfortable to discuss their suicidal ideation with doctors rather than with people from the family inquiring about their recurring suicidal thoughts.

While inquiring about the mental health conditions of their patients, primary care physicians can make use of mental health questionnaires, including the Patient Health Questionnaire. Alternatively, the doctors can pose simple questions about their interest in activities, changes in sleep patterns and appetite levels to judge changes in their behavior and mood. Patel added, “Doctors can then start a trial of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or refer patients to a psychiatrist. It would be more on the primary prevention side than having them be admitted to the hospital at a very complicated stage of their illness.”

Solving mental health crisis

Acute depression hampers the normal functioning of life. It is inhuman to deprive people of the necessary mental health treatment facilities on ground of their race and ethnicities. Treatment of any kind of mental illness, including depression, should be made available to all, irrespective of gender, demographic characteristics or economic background they belong to.

If you or your loved one is facing any mental issue, contact the Sovereign Mental Health Services to know about the available depression treatment centers in California or the best mental health treatment centers in Los Angeles. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-954-0529 or chat online to find out about our facilities which are among the best depression rehab centers.

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