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The Serious Risks of Untreated Depression

The Serious Risks of Untreated Depression

Super-salesman Zig Ziglar once said, “The first step in solving a problem is to recognize that it does exist.” But it’s the second and third steps (or even more) that actually solve it!

The importance—and challenges—of acting to solve problems was reaffirmed recently by a study in JAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers examined data on over 46,000 adults who were screened for depression from 2012-2013. Eight percent were diagnosed with depression—but less than one-third of that group received any treatment! What that indicates is annually more than 10 of the 16 million adults in the U.S. who’ve have at least one major episode of depression go untreated. Not good!

Lack of treatment increases chances of a depressed person abusing drugs or alcohol and ruining relationships. It increases the risk for heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Plus, 5 to 15 percent of folks with untreated major depression commit suicide. (Around 22 veterans commit suicide every day.)

Why are the next steps to relieve depression not taken? Experts speculate folks are reluctant because of social and work-related stigma attached to admitting you’re depressed; there’s a lack of sufficient medical coverage for treatment; and doctors are reluctant to discuss it with patients. It doesn’t need to be that way.

Effective treatment steps can start with a combination of medication, talk therapy and lifestyle changes, such as increased exercise. So, if you’re diagnosed with depression, or know someone dealing with it, ask your doc about taking the steps needed for improving health.

Medically reviewed in June 2018.

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