Depression: One of the Most Treatable Medical Conditions

Patients with depression frequently self-medicate with alcohol or other drugs, and are much more likely to be unable to give up smoking. In addition, untreated depression causes the death by suicide of many thousands every year, and is the third leading cause of death among young people.

Some Good News

In the past several years, there have been many improvements in how we go about identifying depression in primary care settings, making it more likely that those with the illness will be diagnosed and have an opportunity to get treatment.

Many primary-care physicians now screen for depression at annual check-ups, resulting in a far greater likelihood that the illness is identified and treated.

Many practices are also including a behavioral health specialist on the primary-care team, reducing the stigma associated with seeking psychiatric treatment and driving home the point that depression is another medical illness, not a personality failing.

And there have been many advances in the treatment of mood disorders, including better choices of medications and a better understanding of who can benefit from psychotherapy, and what types of therapy are effective.

If someone you love appears sad, is having difficulty with sleep or appetite, and seems to have lost interest in previously enjoyable activities, don’t be afraid to speak up. A visit to their primary-care provider or to a behavioral health clinic may set your loved one on the road to recovery.

While very serious, depression is also one of the most treatable medical conditions.

 

As our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sullivan oversees care delivery across all of our programs here at Lahey Health Behavioral Services. She previously chaired the department of psychiatry at Lahey Clinic, and served as Chief Quality and Safety Officer for Lahey Health.

She is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. A graduate of Dartmouth College and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Dr. Sullivan lives in Lowell, Massachusetts.

 Note: Information on this website and blog is informational only and does not constitute clinical intervention or substitute for treatment by a licensed clinician.

 

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