Health & Healthcare

Stigma remains over Major Depressive Disorder

12 Jan 2011, by Informa Australia

Melbourne, 12th January 2011 – Despite there being 39.1 million people suffering from major depressive disorder (MDD) across the seven major markets, only one third of patients will seek help from a physician, finds latest research from independent analyst Datamonitor*.

Daniel Chancellor, healthcare analyst at Datamonitor, comments: “This is due to the stigma that is still attached to depression, and patients being unaware that their symptoms are representative of a disease, not due to normal life experiences. Of these patients, about one half will be correctly diagnosed as having MDD.”

MDD is a clinical mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with daily life. It can cause substantial impairment, poor health, and lead to destructive behaviour, such as suicidal tendencies. Women are nearly twice as likely to be treated for this disorder, with females aged between 45 and 64 years old the most affected. As well as possessing a greater risk of developing depression, women are more likely to seek help from a physician, which may impact on the statistics.

Of those that are diagnosed and treated, around 90% will receive pharmacotherapy. They are most likely to be prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), however their use decreases at later lines of therapy, in direct contrast with trends observed for all other classes of drugs for MDD.

As therapy progresses, patients are increasingly more likely to receive a combination of drugs, as psychiatrists attempt to manage depressive symptoms more aggressively. At third-line therapy, MDD patients receive on average two different antidepressants. A common strategy employed by psychiatrists for difficult-to-treat patients is to supplement existing antidepressant therapy with an antipsychotic, anticonvulsant, mood stabilizer, or even electroconvulsive therapy.

“Despite a plethora of treatment types, a significant proportion of patients do not reach the desired treatment outcome and a number of challenges still remain for drug developers,” concludes Daniel.

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