June 2, 2009

Teens With Depression Refuse Treatment Due To Worries, Social Stigma

Teens suffering with depression may forego treatment due to concern about the stigma connected to the disorder, a new study implies.

368 teens with and without depression were questioned, and researchers noted that those with the disease attached a social stigma to depression and were concerned over their families' response to the reason they did not confirm their illness and seek treatment.

The study also noted that teens with those concerns were less likely to start counseling six months after their interview with the researchers.

The findings implies that when a teen is confirmed as being depressed, doctors should address any unwillingness to receive treatment, the researchers wrote in the journal Medical Care.

The researchers also feel that parents should be involved in these discussions. In the interviews, parents did not attach a stigma to treatment, and tended to voice normal concerns, like money and schedule conflicts.

"With teenagers, treatment decisions greatly involve other parties, especially parents," lead researcher Dr. Lisa Meredith said in a written statement.

"For instance," she noted, "teenagers often rely on adults for transportation. Doctors need a sense not just of what the teen thinks or what the parent thinks, but what both think."

Discussions that include both teens and parents addressing reluctance toward treatment may encourage the kids to become comfortable with the idea of therapy, the researchers write. It also may help parents learn what their child is going through emotionally.

"Once primary care doctors understand the perceived barriers that exist on both sides," Meredith said, "they are better able to work with a family to get care that feels right for a particular teenager."


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