What barriers are keeping you from reaching out to a doctor for assistance with your depression? Common reasons people avoid treatment and expert advice on how to get past them.

by Simarn Gamare / 20-04-2024 / comments
What barriers are keeping you from reaching out to a doctor for assistance with your depression? Common reasons people avoid treatment and expert advice on how to get past them.

Many people with depression struggle to seek treatment, leading to personal suffering, missed work, relationship strain, health issues, and even death. Understanding why individuals avoid seeking help is complex, but once they do, they can address the barriers that initially kept them away, says Kate Muller, PsyD.

#Reasons Why People Shy Away from Treating Major Depression
If you're experiencing depression and attempting to manage it independently, consider if any of these reasons resonate with you. If they do, heed the experts' guidance and seek the assistance you require.

1-If I give it time,I'll eventually overcome it.
Clinical depression doesn't simply pass with time like a case of the blues. According to Erik Nelson, MD, it can persist indefinitely if left untreated, as depression often has biological roots and requires medical intervention. Delaying treatment can worsen the condition, making it harder to control and increasing the risk of recurrence. Moreover, untreated depression may exacerbate other medical issues such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and cancer.

Expert counsel: Address depression promptly by consulting your doctor. If seeking treatment for a mental disorder feels challenging, bear in mind that addressing it can potentially prevent severe health issues such as heart disease.

2-I'm hesitant about using antidepressants. 
"Sometimes, individuals hesitate to seek help because they fear they'll be prescribed medication," Muller explains. "They might think, 'I don't want to rely on pills indefinitely.'"
While antidepressants are proven to be effective in treating depression, medication isn't always the sole approach to treatment. "Today, we have psychotherapeutic options that are equally effective," Muller explains. "For instance, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a talk therapy that emphasizes the present moment, helping individuals examine their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors to enhance their quality of life and alleviate depression. Research suggests that CBT may be as effective as medications in the short term and may offer longer-lasting benefits."

Expert counsel: Seek support from a therapist, whether it's a psychologist, psychiatrist, or social worker, in addition to consulting your primary care physician. If medication is necessary, it's unlikely to be a lifelong commitment. Muller advises individuals to educate themselves thoroughly and not solely rely on anecdotes from others who have used antidepressants, as individual reactions vary.

3-I don't experience constant sadness. Why should I seek treatment for depression?
Depression isn't solely defined by constant sadness or crying. Often, individuals with depression visit their primary care physicians for issues such as muscle pain, sleep disturbances, or fatigue, unaware that these could be signs of depression, according to Nelson. Sometimes, these symptoms occur alongside feelings of sadness, while other times they don't. Additionally, there's a phenomenon known as "masked depression," where individuals may not recognize feelings of sadness but instead report symptoms like apathy, diminished mood, or a sense of being disconnected from themselves. In such cases, a doctor may diagnose depression based on other symptoms, particularly a decreased interest in or loss of enjoyment from activities typically enjoyed.

Expert counsel: If you're experiencing symptoms like fatigue, muscle pain, or a lack of interest in beloved activities, consider depression as a potential cause. It's important to consult your doctor.

4-I feel embarrassed discussing it with my doctor.
"The stigma surrounding mental health issues often prevents individuals from seeking help or discussing their struggles with depression," explains Bob Livingstone, author of The Body Mind Soul Solution: Healing Emotional Pain Through Exercise. However, depression is not something to be ashamed of; it's a medical condition, akin to diabetes or high cholesterol, that necessitates treatment. Additionally, depression is quite common, so there's a high likelihood that your doctor has heard similar concerns from many patients before.

Expert counsel: I Keep in mind that depression is a common experience, and anything you discuss with your doctor during a visit will remain confidential. However, if you feel uncomfortable speaking with your doctor directly, inquire whether your health insurance offers telephone counseling services. If you lack insurance coverage for mental health, explore mental health resources available in your community.

5-I'm anxious about discussing distressing topics during therapy.
"Individuals with depression often avoid seeking treatment due to the apprehension of delving into their emotional pain," explains Joe Wegmann, a licensed clinical social worker in Metairie, LA. "They fear the prospect of facing it all -- 'I don't want to go there,'" adds Kate Muller. Unfortunately, while in some instances, discussing painful topics is necessary for healing, it doesn't always have to be as intense or intimidating as anticipated, she explains. A skilled therapist understands the difficulty of opening up to a stranger and will support you through the process without pressuring you to divulge too much too quickly or beyond your comfort level.

Expert counsel:Seek out a therapist with whom you feel at ease and don't hesitate to ask them questions as they do you, advises Muller. Prior to beginning therapy, inquire about what to expect during sessions. While difficult conversations may become necessary over time, your therapist cannot compel you. You have the autonomy to decide what information to disclose.


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