People with depression may not reveal symptoms to their doctor

People suffering from depression may not bring it up with their doctor for a number of reasons, a study finds. The most common one? They’re afraid of getting a recommendation for antidepressants.

Those findings are featured in a study released Monday in the journal Annals of Family Medicine. In it, researchers surveyed 1,054 adults about why they wouldn’t tell their primary care physician about depression symptoms, as well as their beliefs about the mental disorder. Depression symptoms, the study authors note, are underreported.

Among the participants, 43% reported one or more reasons why they wouldn’t discuss symptoms with a doctor. The most common obstacles to not reporting symptoms were the prospect of being put on medication, the belief that it’s not the doctor’s job to handle emotional issues, and worries over medical record privacy. At least 10% of the participants said that fear of being referred to a counselor or psychiatrist and being branded a psychiatric patient were stumbling blocks.


Those who had more barriers to talking to their doctors about depression had some things in common: They were likely to be female, Hispanic, with less education and lower income. Other factors included the severity of depression symptoms, having no family history of depression, thinking depression is stigmatizing, and believing that people should be able to control their depression.

“Ironically,” the authors wrote, “those who most subscribed to potential reasons for not talking to a primary care physician about their depression tended to be those who had the greatest potential to benefit from such conversations--individuals with moderate to severe depressive symptoms.”