8 Reasons People Don’t Seek Help for Depression

8 Reasons People Don’t Seek Help for Depression


Major depression affects more than 16 million Americans each year and it is the number one cause of disability for Amercians between the ages of 15 and 44. [https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics] Although depression is one of the most common mental health issues in the US and has a major influence on quality, relationships, and productivity, relatively few people with depression actually seek help for the condition. One large study of more than 46,000 adults published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that fewer than 30 percent of people who screened positive for depression sought help. [https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2546155] Untreated depression can severely diminish your quality of life, increase your risk of developing substance use disorders, increase your risk of suicide, damage your relationships, impair your ability to work, and lead to incrase risk of health problems. With so many negative consequences, why do so few people seek help for depression?

They feel like they don’t deserve help.

One major issue with depression is that the condition itself prevents you from seeking help. Depression often makes you feel worthless, like everyone would be better off without you. That’s not really a frame of mind that motivates you to get treatment. This is why it often falls to loved ones to encourage a family member or friend to get help for depression and even facilitate the process however they can. The person with depression may not feel like she deserves help but her family and friends know she does.

They feel like there’s no point.

Another common effect of depression is that you tend to feel negative, pessimistic, and hopeless. It’s very difficult to imagine a better future or even accept it as a theoretical possibility. If you don’t see any hope of feeling better and you have very little energy to begin with, why make the effort to seek help? In reality, depression usually responds well to treatment. Most people who seek treatment for depression see at least partial remission of symptoms and many recover completely. Treatment typically involves psychotherapy, most often cognitive behavioral therapy, and medication. Lifestyle changes like regular exercise, healthy diet, and adequate sleep often help as well.

They aren’t aware they have a problem.

Although it may sound strange, many people with depression are not aware they have a problem. They may assume everyone feels the way they feel or they may not realize their feelings are symptoms of a treatable condition. This may be especially true for men, who often manifest different symptoms. For example, men may be less prone to feel sadness and more prone to anger, aggression, or risky behavior. Men may also be more prone to self-medicating with drugs or alcohol. Men also feel more pressure to deal with problems on their own. However, it is possible for anyone to have symptoms they don’t recognize as depression. In addition to depressed mood, someone with depression may feel irritable, fatigued, lack motivation, have trouble sleeping, have physical aches, have trouble concentrating, move slowly, feel hopeless or worthless, or have thoughts of suicide or death. 

They think they can handle it on their own.

Many people experiencing the symptoms of depression feel like it’s something they can deal with on their own. One large study that included more than 20,000 people with depression found that more than 22 percent of people who didn’t seek treatment for their depression thought they could handle it on their own. [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29962307] In most cases, depression requires some kind of treatment. Many people experience trauma and sadness without developing depression. Depression indicates there is some biological or cognitive reason for your symptoms. Most people with depression only make it worse by trying to think their way out of it. It’s much more effective to seek professional help.

They don’t have the energy.

Depression can be extremely debilitating. Common symptoms include lethargy, fatigue, and lack of motivation. Someone experiencing a severe episode of depression might not be able to get out of bed, much less find a therapist, make an appointment, and drive there. This is where friends and family are extremely important. They have to realize their loved one isn’t just being lazy; they’re just unable to do very much while depressed. Helping them find a doctor or therapist and helping them get to appointments are among the most useful things you can do for someone with depression.

They can’t afford it.

The study of more than 20,000 people mentioned above found that the top reason people cited for not seeking help for depression was money. Nearly 66 percent of respondents cited cost as their main issue; either they couldn’t afford treatment, their health insurance didn’t cover it, or they didn’t have insurance at all. Compared to other medical issues, depression treatment is very affordable. Most therapists work on a sliding scale if cost is an issue and most antidepressants are available in affordable generic forms. 

They fear the stigma.

In the study mentioned above, more than 35 percent of respondents were concerned about the stigma of depression. They were either worried about the opinions of their neighbors, worried it might affect their careers, worried about confidentiality, or just didn’t want others to find out. Although we have made a lot of progress in our attitudes towards mental health in recent years, we still have a way to go. However, therapists have a high standard of confidentiality and in most cases, you can get help for depression without anyone else knowing. 

There are practical obstacles. 

In the study above, most of the remaining people who didn’t seek help for depression cited some kind of practical impediment. Nearly 35 percent of respondents said they didn’t know where to get help, they didn’t have time, that treatment was too far away, or they didn’t have transportation to get there. Respondents may have perceived these as real problems or they may have just been since most of these problems are easily solved. Again, this is where the help of family and friends can be invaluable. It’s easy to underestimate how difficult even simple tasks seem to someone with depression. Lending assistance can make all the difference in whether a loved one gets help.

At Hart Consultants, we provide a number of different services to fit the needs of each individual client. Among these, are helping you choose a treatment provider, helping you develop a treatment plan, helping you establish post-treatment support, and ensuring continuity among the different elements of treatment. Contact us today at 844-262-7970 or Info@PatrickHartConsultants.com or explore our website for more information.

AUTHOR: Hart Consultants