Therapy in L.A.


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November/December 2004
By Sandy Plone, Ph.D.

From the Los Angeles Times Health Section article, When Treatment Comes Up Short, by Daffodil J. Altan (June 21, 2004)

A new study published recently in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that many depressed people are not receiving the care they need, after turning to their most trusted and familiar doctor--their primary care physician. Researchers found that even when correct diagnosis was made, and their primary care physicians treated people for depression, only 23% improved. Most patients were given what the study called “adequate care”, meaning a recommendation to take antidepressant medication. Three out of four were still depressed six months later, although most patients received doses that have often had some effect.

The researchers concluded that what was missing was sufficient follow-up; that the doctors had failed to appropriately monitor their patients, and that this may be because health care plans often have limited options for mental health care. While depression has been identified by the World Health Organization as one the main causes of disability in the U.S. and worldwide, because of these limited resources the optimum treatment needed for recovery has often not been available. It was suggested that offering a prescription for depression is vastly different than for physical ailments, such as an ulcer, and that better follow-up care for depression has the potential to improve overall health and productivity.

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