Background: Despite the availability of evidence based treatments, many people with major depression receive no or delayed professional treatment, which may put them at risk for adverse outcomes. The aim of this study was to examine which demographic and need factors distinguish early, delayed and no treatment use. Methods: Data were obtained from the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study-2 (NEMESIS-2). People with a diagnosis of major depression in the past 12 months were included (N = 434). Mental health care use was assessed during this same period and at follow up (three years later). Multinomial regression analysis was used to distinguish early, delayed and no mental health care users with respect to demographic and need factors. Results: The majority of participants accessed treatment early (62%). Early treatment users were characterized by more severe and persistent symptoms and were more likely not to have a partner compared to no treatment users. The majority of those without treatment reached remission in three years (85%). Delayed treatment users were, compared to early users, characterized by relatively mild symptoms and a persistent or new major depressive disorder at follow up. Conclusions: Early access to treatment and the finding that need factors determine mental health care use among people with depression show that the filters along the pathway to treatment are not influenced by unfavorable determinants like education or age.