Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Poll: Almost half of Ky. adults know someone who is depressed, and 30 percent say they don't know where to call for treatment

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Nearly half of Kentucky adults know someone who has a serious problem with depression, and most say they know who to contact for treatment, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll.

"Depression is common in Kentucky, as it is elsewhere in the country, and it's important to understand that it is a serious mood disorder that can and should be treated," said Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, which co-sponsors the poll. "Knowing where to find help is an important first step in getting treatment or counseling, but lack of health insurance and access to integrated care can be a barrier for those trying to get help."

The poll, taken Sept. 11 through Oct. 19, found that 49 percent of Kentucky adults know someone who is seriously depressed. More women than men, 53 percent to 45 percent, said they knew such a person.

Nearly 70 percent of those polled said they knew who to contact for services or treatment for depression, while 30 percent said they didn't know who to contact. Adults 30-64 were most likely to know about available treatment (74 percent), compared to younger adults (63 percent) and older adults (58 percent).

The poll's overall error margin is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, but more for subsamples such as age groups.

Nearly one in five Kentucky adults at some time in their life have been told by a health-care provider that they are depressed, according to polling by the federal Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. However, fewer than half who have a mental illness have received treatment or counseling, according to a federal report on Kentucky's behavioral health.

Sheila Schuster, the executive director of the Kentucky Mental Health Coalition, said in the news release that she was troubled by the number of Kentuckians who are feeling depressed, but don't seek treatment.

"We know that depression is treatable; we also know that it should be treated and not ignored, nor handled with self-medication through alcohol or other substances," she said. "It is very important for Kentuckians to know the mental health resources and to encourage family members and friends who are struggling with depression to seek help."

The American Psychiatric Association says depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe, and must last at least two weeks to be diagnosed. It notes that depression affects an estimated one in 15 adults in any given year, and one in six people will experience depression at some time in their life.

The APA says symptoms of depression include: feeling sad or having a depressed mood; loss of interest or pleasure in activities one enjoyed; changes in appetite, with weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting; trouble sleeping or sleeping too much; loss of energy or increased fatigue; increase in purposeless physical activity, like pacing, or slowed movements and speech; feeling worthless or guilty; difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions; or thoughts of death or suicide.

Click here for the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services directory of behavioral health-care providers, sorted by county and health plan. Click here for a list of community mental health centers and psychiatric hospitals, including phone numbers for 24-hour crisis intervention.

The poll was conducted by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati and was funded by the foundation and Interact for Health. It surveyed a random sample of 1,580 Kentucky adults via landlines and cell phones.

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