Doctors are way behind when it comes to identifying andresponding to symptoms of depression,according to a new study.

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The study of 1,000 primary care practices in the U.S., based onnational survey data from 2006 to 2013, sought to determine howoften doctors are using “best practices” in response to a varietyof chronic conditions, including asthma, congestive heart failure,diabetes, and depression.

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The researchers found that the average primary care practiceused less than one of the five recommended management practices fordepression. The performance of physicians in this regard did notimprove during the seven years examined by the study.

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Less than one on average? That means that none of therecommended practices was consistently used by more than half ofthe practices.

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Roughly a third, for instance, kept a list of patients withdepression, but less than 10 percent made sure to remind patientsabout their treatments, including counseling and medication.

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“These findings may indicate that U.S. primary care practicesare not well equipped to manage depression as a chronic illness,despite the high proportion of depression care they provide,”concluded the team of researchers led by Tara F. Bishop, aprofessor of health care policy at Weill Cornell Medical College inNew York City.

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In an interview with Kaiser Health News, Dr. Jeffrey Borenstein, whoheads the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, comparedtreatment of depression to that ofother common chronic conditions.

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“When we treat high blood pressure, the blood pressure may startat 150 over 95, and then it’s monitored over time until it gets toa level that’s being aimed for,” he said. “If somebody hasdepression, their symptoms need to be monitored until it gets to alevel that the depression is lifted.”

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