ORIGINAL PAPER

Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 42, Issue 9, pp 740-746

First online:

Who is treated, and how, for depression?

An analysis of statutory health insurance data in Germany
  • Anke BramesfeldAffiliated withDept. for Epidemiology, Social Medicine, and Health System Research, Medical School Hannover, OE 5410 Email author 
  • , Thomas GrobeAffiliated withInstitute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health System Research (ISEG)
  • , Friedrich Wilhelm SchwartzAffiliated withDept. for Epidemiology, Social Medicine, and Health System Research, Medical School Hannover, OE 5410

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Abstract

Background

Studies on the treatment of depression using epidemiological survey methods suggest a high level of under-treatment. Little is known about the characteristics of those people receiving treatment and indeed what kind of treatment they are likely to receive.

Method

Analysis of the data of a statutory health insurance company in Germany.

Results

In middle-aged groups, about 50% of those diagnosed as being depressed in outpatient care are prescribed antidepressants and/or psychotherapy in the course of a year. There is more pharmacologic treatment provided in rural areas and more psychotherapy in cities, suggesting that treatment is dependent upon service availability rather than evidence-based treatment decisions. Treatment rates are considerably lower in the very young and the very old and show gender bias. Young females receive less pharmacologic treatment than young males, and elderly men are, in general, treated less than women, suggesting under-treatment at least for these groups.

Conclusions

The low treatment rates following the diagnosis of depression in the young and the old require attention, in particular with respect to gender aspect.

Key words

treatment of depression sociodemographic characteristics health insurance data epidemiology health service research