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SAMHSA News Release

Date: 2/20/2014 3:15 PM
Media Contact: SAMHSA Press Office
Telephone: 240-276-2130

More than one-third of adults experiencing major depressive episodes did not talk to a care provider

A new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that 38.3 percent of the 15.2 million American adults who had experienced a major depressive episode in the past year did not talk to a health provider or an alternative service provider.


A major depressive episode is defined as a period of at least two weeks when a person experienced a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities and had at least four of seven additional symptoms reflecting the criteria as described in the fourth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).


General practitioners and family doctors were the most common sources of help among those experiencing major depressive episodes in the past year who did talk to a healthcare provider about their depression (37.4 percent). About 20.3 percent of people who did consult a professional about a major depressive episode spoke to a psychiatrist or psychotherapist and 16.3 percent spoke to a psychologist.


Religious or spiritual advisors were the most cited source of alternative service professional help among adults experiencing major depressive episodes in the past year (11.3 percent).


Slightly more than 10 percent of adults experiencing a major depressive episode in the past year talked to both health providers and alternative service providers.


“This report shows that too many Americans still needlessly suffer in silence instead of reaching out to providers for help in getting them on the road to recovery through effective treatment and supports,” said Paolo del Vecchio, the director of SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services. “We are raising awareness about the hope for recovery from these conditions, helping communities identify their behavioral health needs, and increasing education about access to treatment for all Americans through the Affordable Care Act and the new parity protections for insurance coverage.”


More than One Third of Adults with a Major Depressive Episode Did Not Talk to a Professional, is available at: The report is based on data drawn from SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health – an annual survey of 67,500 Americans conducted throughout the nation.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.

Last updated: 2/20/2014 3:18 PM

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