Research Activities February 2013, No. 390

Co-occurring mental disorders such as PTSD and panic disorder prompt the depressed to seek earlier treatment

Mental Health

The lag time between the onset of major depressive disorder (MDD) and beginning treatment is a median of 8 years. People with MDD seek treatment for their depression more quickly if they also suffer from panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or other mental disorders besides the depression, reveals a new study. These individuals were more likely to seek treatment and to seek it earlier than were people with MDD and no coexisting mental disorders.

Being male, black, or Asian was significantly associated with a longer time to begin treatment than being female or white. Other factors associated with shorter time to seeking initial treatment were onset of depression, being older than 55, having 13 or more years of formal education at depression onset, and being married at the time of depression onset. The findings suggest the importance of outreach to persons with MDD who have no other psychiatric conditions.

The investigators analyzed data from face-to-face interviews with 43,093 participants in the first wave of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, including 5,958 with MDD anytime during their lives. The study was funded in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS16097).

More details are in "Influence of comorbid mental disorders on time to seeking treatment for major depressive disorder," by Mark Olfson, M.D., M.P.H., Shang-Min Liu, M.S., Bridget F. Grant, Ph.D., and Carlos Blanco, MD., Ph.D., in the March 2012 Medical Care 50(3), pp. 227-232.


Page last reviewed February 2013
Page originally created February 2013
Internet Citation: Co-occurring mental disorders such as PTSD and panic disorder prompt the depressed to seek earlier treatment. Content last reviewed February 2013. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.