Biology: Suffering in silence: two-thirds of older adults say they won’t treat their depression


Photo: After experiencing depression, Sami Smith found an effective treatment with the help of her psychiatrist and the GeneSight test, a genetic test that can help determine how a patient’s genes…
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Credit Image: Myriad Neuroscience, makers of the GeneSight test

SALT LAKE CITY, November 16, 2020 – A new nationwide poll, the GeneSight Mental Health Monitor, shows that nearly two-thirds (61%) of Americans age 65 or older who have concerns about having depression will not seek treatment. In fact, nearly 1 in 3 (33%) seniors who are concerned they might be suffering from depression believe they can “snap out” of it on their own.

“The ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ mindset of some seniors and reluctance to talk about mental health are hindering them from getting the help they need – especially now when the pandemic is having an enormous impact on the mental health of older Americans,” said Dr. Mark Pollack, chief medical officer of Myriad Neuroscience, makers of the GeneSight test. “People will seek treatment for conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes. Depression is no different. It is an illness that can and should be treated.”

Yet, while depression is a condition that needs to be treated:

  • 61% of respondents who are concerned they might have depression would not treat it because “my issues aren’t that bad.”
  • About 4 in 10 (39%) of these consumers think they can manage depression without a doctor’s help.

“In my experience, there is a commonly held view that depression is a normal part of aging; it is not,” said Dr. Parikshit Deshmukh, CEO and medical director of Balanced Wellbeing LLC in Oxford, Florida, which provides psychiatric and psychotherapy services to nursing and assisted living facilities. “I’ve found older adults have a very difficult time admitting that they have depression. When they do acknowledge it, they are still reluctant to start treatment for a wide variety of reasons.”

Depression remains a taboo topic among older Americans, despite about one-third of those over the age of 65 who are concerned they have depression recognizing that depression has interfered with their relationships and their ability to enjoy activities.

“There is such a stigma about depression among people my age,” said Carmala Walgren, a 74-year-old resident of New York. “I am proof that you do not have to accept living with depression. Although it may not be easy to find treatment that helps you with your symptoms without causing side effects, it is certainly worth it.”

Walgren’s doctor used information from the results of her GeneSight test, a genetic test that identifies potential gene-drug interactions for depression medications, to help inform Walgren’s medication selection.

“The GeneSight test made such a difference in my life,” said Walgren. “My doctor has used the test results to find medications that helped me.”


The GeneSight® Mental Health Monitor is a nationwide survey of US adults conducted by Acupoll from August 12-September 27, 2020. The survey was conducted among a statistically representative sample of US adults age 18+, including a US representative sample of adults age 65 and older. The margin of error in survey results for those Age 65+ who are concerned they may have depression but have not been diagnosed is +/-5%.

For full results of the survey, please email or call.

For more information on older adults and depression, please visit

Myriad Neuroscience

Myriad Neuroscience is a business unit of Myriad Genetics, Inc. (NASDAQ: MYGN). Through its GeneSight® Psychotropic test, Myriad Neuroscience provides information to healthcare providers about their patient’s genetic variations, which may impact how they metabolize or respond to certain psychiatric medications. Learn more at

The GeneSight® Test

The GeneSight Psychotropic test from Myriad Neuroscience is the category-leading pharmacogenomic test for depression medications. The GeneSight test can help inform doctors about genes that may impact how patients metabolize or respond to certain psychiatric medications. It has been given to more than one million patients by tens of thousands of clinicians to provide genetic information that is unique to each patient. It supplements other information considered by a doctor as part of a comprehensive medical assessment. Learn more at

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