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Minnesota's depression treatment outcomes are, well, depressing

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Minnesota's mental health system is largely ineffective at treating depression and hasn't improved, according to a new report from Minnesota Community Measurement.

"The main take away from this report is that on a statewide basis rates of depression remission and response remain relatively low," said Julie Sonier, the organization's president.

After 6 months of treatment only 8 percent of Minnesota patients have no symptoms —  or at least fewer symptoms — of depression. The remission rate has been stuck at 8 percent for years.

Depression is widespread and expensive.

In 2016 more than 16 million American adults experience at least one episode of major depression. Workers diagnosed with depression miss nearly an entire week of work more than people never diagnosed with the condition.  Lost productivity due to depression costs an estimated $23 billion a year.

The symptoms of depression are a factor in the low remission rates the report said. "Patients with depression, an isolating condition, are less capable of reaching out, keeping appointments, and maintaining a connection with their provider compared to patients with other conditions."

That means it's important for providers to be pro-active in following their patients.

"It's very important to follow up with patients to understand how they're doing," and adjust their care if needed, Sonier said. "That's one of the things that the clinics that score well on these measures tend to be doing fairly well."

Some medical groups were able to achieve double-digit remission rates. But none exceeded 20 percent at six months.