Research Article

Unrecognised depression in general practice.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985; 290 doi: (Published 22 June 1985) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985;290:1880
  1. P Freeling,
  2. B M Rao,
  3. E S Paykel,
  4. L I Sireling,
  5. R H Burton


    Patients attending their general practitioner were screened and a group with unrecognised major depressive disorder identified. This group was interviewed and the findings compared with those in a group of patients recognised correctly as depressed by their general practitioners. Half of the patients with severe depression screened in their doctors' waiting rooms went unrecognised, and they differed in few ways from those who were recognised. The differences found were that the patients with unrecognised depression were less obviously depressed and their illness had lasted longer. Physical illness was present in nearly 30% of patients in the unrecognised group, and the depression seemed related to it. Patients with unrecognised depression were more likely to have feelings other than those of normal sadness and more likely to respond with change of mood to intercurrent events. These data suggest that patients might benefit if general practitioners were better trained to recognise depression, although it is not known whether treatment would be effective.