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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Doctors Often Fail To Treat Depression Like A Chronic Illness

Shfali Luthra
NPR.org
Originally published March 7, 2016

Depression prompts people to make about 8 million doctors' appointments a year, and more than half are with primary care physicians. A study suggests those doctors often fall short in treating depression because of insurance issues, time constraints and other factors.

More often than not, primary care doctors fail to teach patients how to manage their care and don't follow up to see how they're doing, according to the study, which was published Monday in Health Affairs. Those are considered effective tactics for treating chronic illnesses.

"The approach to depression should be like that of other chronic diseases," said Dr. Harold Pincus, vice chair of psychiatry at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons and one of the study's co-authors. But "by and large, primary care practices don't have the infrastructure or haven't chosen to implement those practices for depression."

Most people with depression seek help from their primary care doctors, the study notes. That can be because patients often face shortages and limitations of access to specialty mental health care, including lack of insurance coverage, the authors write. Plus there's stigma: Patients sometimes feel nervous or ashamed to see a mental health specialist, according to the authors.

The article is here.
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