Depressive symptoms and mental health service utilization in a community sample

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This study examines the utilization of health visits for mental health purposes by community respondents with depressive symptoms. Data are drawn from first wave interviews of the Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) project at the Baltimore, Durham, and Los Angeles sites. The results indicate that persons with depressive symptoms, even in the absence of a recent DIS/DSM-III disorder, are at increased risk for making mental health related visits. The risk of visiting a general medical provider or mental health specialist for mental health treatment tends to increase as the number of depressive symptoms increase. Sociodemographic factors including age, racial background, and employment status also influence the risk of making a mental health related visit.