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Medication, Communication Alleviate Latino Depression

Stigma related to antidepressant use and poor communication linked to persistence of depression

FRIDAY, April 1 (HealthDay News) -- Among Latinos, symptoms of depression are more likely to abate with the use of antidepressants and quality doctor-patient communication, but symptoms are more likely to persist in the presence of stigma toward antidepressants, according to a study published online Jan. 19 in General Hospital Psychiatry.

Alejandro Interian, Ph.D., of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Lyons, and colleagues investigated how the factors contributing to mental health care disparities among Latinos with depression relate to the long-term course of their depression symptoms. The Patient Health Questionnaire-9, self-reported quality of doctor-patient communication, and stigma related to antidepressant use were assessed in 220 Latinos with depression at four intervals during a 30-month period. Researchers examined rates of remission and relapse, in addition to how these factors influence the course of depression.

The researchers found that 69.4 percent of patients improved or experienced remission during the 30-month period. Of those experiencing improvement/remission at six or 25 months, 63.4 percent maintained the improvement. Antidepressant stigma was significantly linked with long-term persistence of depression symptoms. By contrast, using antidepressants and high quality doctor-patient communication were linked with a more favorable long-term trajectory.

"Most Latinos in this study experienced improvement in depression over 30 months. For many, there is a considerable time to reach improvement/remission. Also, these findings confirm the significance of antidepressant underutilization, doctor-patient communication, and stigma in the long-term outcome of depression among Latinos in primary care," the authors write.

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