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Mental Health Issues in Others May Drive People to Seek Depression Treatment

January 15, 2020

Knowing someone with emotional or mental health problems increased the likelihood that people who screened positive for depression sought out depression treatment for themselves, according to a study published online in Psychiatric Services.

“Personal knowledge of others with emotional problems or who had sought treatment for them may play a role in decisions about one’s own treatment,” researchers wrote.

The study gauged the influence of personal knowledge of others with emotional or mental problems on a person’s own likelihood of seeking treatment for depression. Researchers focused on 239 adults who screened positive for major depression on an Internet-based depression screening study and then agreed to complete a follow-up online survey. Questions focused on whether or not they ever sought treatment for depression, experiences with stigma, support from others, and other considerations.

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After controlling for social support, stigma, and demographic variables, the study showed that knowing someone with emotional or mental problems, as well as knowing someone who had sought treatment for emotional or mental problems, were both associated with a participant’s seeking treatment for their own depression.

According to Psychiatric News Alert coverage, just knowing at least one person in their family with emotional or mental problems almost quadrupled the likelihood of a participant’s seeking treatment for depression, compared with not knowing any family members with emotional or mental problems. Meanwhile, knowing someone outside the family with such problems increased the likelihood of a participant seeking depression treatment fivefold.

“Because our findings were correlational, it is unknown whether treatment seeking was the result of or a precursor to personal knowledge of others with mental health issues,” the Psychiatric News Alert article quoted from the study. “Future research should investigate whether this relationship is causal and if so, the direction of this relationship.” 

—Jolynn Tumolo

References 

Tran MM, Curland RA, Leykin Y. Association between treatment seeking and personal knowledge of others with emotional or mental problems. Psychiatric Services. 2019 December 11;[Epub ahead of print].

Knowing others in treatment may encourage people with depression to seek care. Psychiatric News Alert. December 23, 2019.

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