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Are you Afraid to Tell Your Doctor About Your Depression?

By HERWriter Guide
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Talk to your Doctor about depression Photo: Getty Images

If you are hesitant to talk to your own health care provider about your mental health, you're not alone. A new study coming from University of California- Davis, has shown that a surprisingly large number of people don't talk to their doctors about their feelings of depression, during checkups or annual visits.

More than one thousand people were surveyed and asked if they discussed any feelings of depression they may have with their doctors, and 43 percent of those surveyed said they did not. Their reasons were varied and understandable, since mental illness still carries a stigma in America, despite all the progress made. Patients also fear their health files will label them as mental or "psychiatric patients".

Other reasons for non-disclosure included the fear of being put on medications, their boss or relatives finding out (and the subsequent anxiety of being discriminated against or spoken about behind their backs), and the feeling that they should be at the doctor's office for physical ailments only. And since doctors believe that depression is under-diagnosed, this percentage is probably even higher.

According to the co-author of the study, Richard Kravitz, M.D., a professor of internal medicine at the University of California, Davis, doctors need to be open to discussing mental health with their patients. Leaving informational pamphlets or offering questionnaires can help draw information from otherwise reluctant patients.

Because depression can cause physical problems like weight loss or gain, insomnia, loss of libido, experts recommend that doctors and nurses examine if depression could be a reason for these symptoms. Another good idea is for health care providers to ask the patient about how she's feeling emotionally, as well as physically, as a matter of course.

Both patient and health care provider need to move past any kind of taboo in talking about mental health so that the patient is more likely to come forth, looking for help. Having plenty of information about mental health in waiting rooms can help with this as well as some well-placed questions during a visit.

If you are looking for an online support group, check out EmpowHER's Anxiety Group here: https://www.empowher.com/groups/anxiety-group and our Depression Group can be found here: https://www.empowher.com/groups/Depression

Tell Us
Are you hesitant to talk to your doctor about feelings of anxiety or depression you may have? What do you think would make it easier for you to talk about how your are feeling emotionally?


Depressed people often hide symptoms from doctors. CNN.com. Web. 14 Sept. 2011.

Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment3 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

When YOU tell someone there is a stigma attached, what are you accomplishing? I am seriously interested. What do you believe you are accomplishing?

Harold A. Maio

September 15, 2011 - 12:31pm
(reply to Anonymous)

She is stating a fact. This is a factual article. There is a huge stigma about any kind of mental illness. That is fact. There is even a website called stigma.org about mental illness and the stigma it carries. I appreciate this article, as it encourages people to seek help. It shows them they are not alone.

September 16, 2011 - 8:02pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Sysy92)

There is no fact in "stigma" it is innuendo. There is prejudice, only that. I do not promote innuendo.

Harold A. Maio.

September 17, 2011 - 2:00am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.