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J Clin Psychiatry. 1999;60 Suppl 7:12-6; discussion 17-8.

Depression in the community: physician and patient perspective.

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RCGP Unit for Mental Health Education in Primary Care, Section of Epidemiology and General Practice, Institute of Psychiatry, London, United Kingdom.


Depression and anxiety are the most common mental disorders seen by primary care physicians. The conditions often coexist. It has been reported that about half the psychiatric comorbidity in patients visiting their primary care physician goes unrecognized. Consequently, there is widespread agreement that an improvement in recognition of mental illnesses is required. This review examines how patient characteristics and patient presentation affect the acknowledgment of depression. Furthermore, the role of the physician will be discussed, with relation to the importance of acquiring specific consulting and prescribing skills for dealing with patients with depression. It is hoped that, with increasing awareness of depression and the development of training schemes for primary care physicians that focus specifically on the recognition and management of the condition in this setting, underrecognition and undertreatment of the disorder will improve.

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