Study: Undiagnosed Depression Data Reveal Serious Problems

Depression can make one feel all alone.

When someone suffers from a physical injury or illness, many times it’s not difficult for people to ascertain that something is wrong. Obviously, that’s not always the case, but one of the fundamental challenges with regards to people suffering from mental health challenges is that most wouldn’t know something was amiss simply by looking at them. That means that people who suffer from conditions such as depression, anxiety and other difficulties are often undiagnosed.

How prevalent is the problem of undiagnosed mental health conditions? One recent study attempted to put some level of quantification in place, and the results were troubling for many. The study we’re going to discuss today focused on depression, and the conclusion shined a light on what could be several mental health-related problems that will need to be addressed for the common good.

About the Depression Study

The study, entitled, “Prevalence and Impact of Diagnosed and Undiagnosed Depression in the United States,” can be found here. Researchers from across the United States selected a representative sample of 200 American adults to complete what is known as the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9).

The questionnaire consisted of nine questions, each of which allowed for one of four answers:

  • Never
  • Several days
  • The majority of days
  • Every day

Below are the response details to these questions:

1. How often do you experience little interest or pleasure in socializing?

More than 75 percent of the respondents answered that they experience little interest or pleasure in socializing on several days, more than half of their days or every day.

2. How often do you feel down, depressed, or hopeless?

More than 70 percent of the respondents feel this way on several days, more than half of their days or every day.

3. How often do you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping? 

Just over 20 percent of the respondents stated that they never have trouble with regards to sleep.

4. How often do you feel tired or have little energy?

More than 87 percent of the respondents reported feeling tired/having little energy on several days, more than half of their days or every day.

5. How often do you have a poor appetite or engage in overeating?

This response was a bit less alarming, with 31.8% indicating no issues, 41.3% indicating problems on some days, 15.4% saying this occurred on more than half the days and 11.4% indicating nearly every day.

6. How often do you feel bad about yourself – or that you’re a failure or have let yourself or your family down?

41.3% indicated that they feel this on several days, 15.4% on more than half of the days, and 11.4% nearly every day. That totals more than two-thirds of respondents.

7. How often do you have trouble concentrating on things, such as reading?

More than 60 percent of the respondents indicated that they struggle with such acts on more than half the days, on several days or nearly every day.

8. How often do you speak so slowly that other people could have noticed. Or the opposite – being so fidgety or restless that you have been moving around a lot more than usual?

55 percent of the respondents stated that they do not experience these types of problems.

9. How often do you have thoughts that you would be better off dead or of hurting yourself in some way?

 22 percent of respondents have these thoughts on several days, 8 percent on the majority of days and 4 percent every day.

Why These Responses Matter

The data presented above present a troubling picture whereby the majority of respondents struggled with many classic symptoms and warning signs of depression often. Even more troubling was the fact that:

  • 39.4 percent of the respondents have had a formal diagnosis of depression.
  • 60.6 percent have not had a diagnosis of depression.
  • 53 percent of respondents have considered seeking professional help for depression.
  • 47 percent have not.

These responses reveal that a lot – perhaps the majority – of people across the country struggle at least periodically, if not regularly, with depression or depressive episodes. It also shows that far too many people, even those who believe they may need help, are not seeking it based on the disparity between the number of people thinking of getting help and those who have been diagnosed with depression.

Why is there such a gap? We’ve already discussed the continuing presence of a mental health stigma, which does play a role in some people not seeking the help they may need. We’ve also analyzed the confusion surrounding health insurance and mental health treatment coverage. Still others, as we detailed with a study from Ohio, face extremely long wait times to get the mental health help that they need.

The bottom line is that too many people are suffering and not being properly diagnosed and/or treated. This depression study only reinforces that under-the-radar problem that’s becoming more and more prevalent by the day. The researchers called for more work and investment in ongoing care and treatment.

How SoCal Empowered Can Help

Depression is something that millions of people struggle with across the globe, and for some with severe cases it can be extremely dangerous. You can find an in-depth analysis of depression here, and those who may be wondering if this is a problem should take a closer look at any and all information pertaining to it.

In addition, if you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, you should always feel free to contact us to find out whether or not treatment would be a good approach. We’ll help you find the right solution, whether it’s working with us or not. Call us today to start getting a handle on this situation.