Antidepressant anxiety one reason patients clam up about depression

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(CBS) Are people afraid of antidepressants?

A new survey shows that nearly one in four people experiencing symptoms of depression would be reluctant to tell a doctor because they fear they'll be given a prescription for an antidepressant - many of which carry significant side effects, including weight gain and sexual dysfunction.

And "medication aversion" wasn't the only reason people gave for not wanting to talk about depression with a doctor.

Some people said they didn't think it was the job of a primary-care doctor to talk about depression. Others fretted about the privacy of their medical records or about being referred to a psychiatrist.

And some were afraid of being branded a "psychiatric patient."

"When patients are diagnosed with depression, they can go into a state of shock emotionally and view it as some kind of indictment of personality or character," Dr. Norman Sussman, a professor of psychiatry at New York University Langone Medical Center who was not involved in the study, told HealthDay. "People would almost prefer to get a serious medical diagnosis than be told they have a psychiatric disorder."

Overall, 43 percent of the 1,000-plus people who participated in the telephone survey had at least one reason why they would be unlikely to let the doctor know they were feeling depressed.

The study - entitled "Suffering in Silence: Reasons for Not Disclosing Depression in Primary Care" and published in the September/October issue of Annals of Family Medicine - showed that certain groups were more reluctant than others to talk about depression with a doctor. These included women, Hispanics, and people with low income or education levels.

The study helps explain why so many patients go untreated for depression, which affects an estimated 16.2 percent of Americans at some point.

The National institute of Mental Health has more on depression.

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