Monday, 21 January 2013

In China, depression goes untreated due to stigma and lack of psychiatrists

China has only 15 psychiatrists per million people
In China, long-standing social stigma around depression is a major obstacle. 
In rural areas in particular, people lack awareness and those with depression are often written off as being simply too lazy to do anything. Other times, people with mood disorders are considered insane and patients and their families are usually embarrassed or ashamed to do anything about it.
A lack of understanding is another factor. People mistakenly believe that they can simply get better through sheer willpower. An online survey by the World Psychiatry Association and in July 2012 showed that about 45 percent of respondents said they wouldn't go to a hospital if they had depression. Over 75 percent of them believed that they would not need to see a doctor or be medicated.
Among those who do choose to seek help, most visit general hospitals, which highlights the importance for doctors in community hospitals to receive psychiatric training and learn how to recognize and diagnose depression.
The survey showed that of the patients who went to treat cardiovascular, gastrointestinal or other diseases in general hospitals, over 20 percent also had clinical depression or anxiety disorder, said He Yanling, director of clinical epidemiology at Shanghai Institute of Mental Health, the Xinhua News Agency reported in July last year. But the diagnostic rate in general hospitals remains abysmal.
There are about 20,000 registered psychiatrists in China, which translates to about 15 psychiatrists per million people, according to Xinhua. There are also around 40,000 certified counseling psychologists in the country, but they do not have the legal right to prescribe medication for depression but only offer counseling as a complement to treatment.
Not only is professional help limited by these numbers but the abilities of these professionals vary greatly. Many people who suffer from depression have been bounced around between several different doctors who all fail to give them the help they need.
Read the full article: Global Times

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