A Step in the Right Direction for Depression Treatment
> 11/3/2005 11:51:17 AM

As reported by the NY Times:
Prompted in part by employers who cite depression as a frequent cause of absenteeism and low productivity, the big insurer Aetnaplans to announce today that it will begin paying for a depressionmanagement program in dozens of medical offices around the country.

Under the plan, Aetna will pay primary care doctors additional fees toscreen patients for depression and to provide follow-up consultationsfor patients who are either put on antidepressants or, in more severecases, referred to psychiatrists or psychologists. Aetna planseventually to offer the program nationwide.

This new plan is a great step in the right direction in the effort tobetter treat depression.  It is, however, only a beginning. One of the major difficulties that stand in the way of more thoroughand universal treatment is that primary care physicians often do notadequately diagnose depression and when they prescribe medication do soat inadequate dosage. More importantly, when the disease is diagnosedproperly, these same physicians are not prepared to offer psychotherapywhich is as important as medication in the treatment of even milddepression.  Aetna will better serve its clients by encouragingthese Primary Care Physicians (PCP's) to refer these patients toqualified Psychiatrists, Psychologists and Social Workers forpharmacological and psycho-therapeutic treatments. De-stigmatizingPsychological Treatments should be part of this worthy effort.Congratulations to AETNA on their initiative!

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