DEPRESSIVE disorders are conditions whose high prevalence1,2 and frequent need for medical intervention3 require increased understanding in the general medical community. Antidepressants are prescribed with increasing frequency by a wide range of medical practitioners and a recent listing of the most prescribed drugs included seven antidepressants.4 Data from an ongoing National Institute of Mental Health epidemiologic study,2 using diagnostic criteria from DSM-III,5 indicate that in the general population there is a six-month prevalence of depressive disorders (bipolar and unipolar) of about 5%. Furthermore, over 75% of persons with recent depressive disorders have sought medical treatment of some type in the last six months and nearly half of all mental health—related visits made by depressed individuals are to general medical practitioners.3 These figures constitute a compelling reason for all physicians to be familiar with the typology of depressive disorders.
In psychiatry, as in all fields
Schwartz JM, Baxter LR, Mazziotta JC, Gerner RH, Phelps ME. The Differential Diagnosis of DepressionRelevance of Positron Emission Tomography Studies of Cerebral Glucose Metabolism to the Bipolar-Unipolar Dichotomy. JAMA. 1987;258(10):1368–1374. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400100102031