Major Depression Should Be Treated Like Any Other Serious Medical Condition
Category: Behavioral Health Services
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is one of the most common mental illnesses that we as mental health professionals treat on a daily basis.
MDD differs from occasional sadness that most of us experience; it often includes a more pervasive sad mood and/or an inability to feel joy, hopelessness, physical symptoms, and a significant impairment in functioning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute of Mental Health, this kind of depression affects almost 15 million adults and nearly 3 million adolescents in the U.S. each year and is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for people ages 15-44.
At its worst, MDD can lead to suicide, which occurs every 12.3 minutes in the U.S. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds in the U.S.
There is a growing recognition of the high rates of comorbidity with other medical conditions such as cancer, strokes, heart attacks, and HIV; depression has also been found to worsen outcomes in people with these conditions. Thankfully, the separation between physical and mental wellness is gradually being eroded. There is much work being done around better integrating primary and mental health care. MDD itself is becoming increasingly recognized as a medical condition, and we counsel people that this condition is just as important to treat as any other serious medical condition.
Although there are effective treatments for MDD, such as psychotherapy and medication, roughly half of those with MDD do not seek treatment. Barriers often include a lack of resources, a lack of access to mental health professionals, and social stigma. Much work is being done to improve access and decrease stigma.
Many with MDD do benefit from treatment, so we as medical providers give a message of hope to those who are often hopeless. At Legacy Community Health, we have made a commitment to providing mental health care and offer compassionate behavioral health services at most of our clinics.
If you know anyone who experiences suicidal thoughts, this page gives tips on how to offer support. If you have any mental health concerns, you can call (713) 351 7360 for more information and to schedule an appointment at Legacy.
We are here to help, in any and every way that we can.
Post by Dr. Chad Lemaire, MD, Medical Director of Behavioral Health