May 14, 1997

Underdiagnosis of Depression in Primary Care: By Accident or Design?

Author Affiliations

Hughesville, Pa

JAMA. 1997;277(18):1433. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540420029013

To the Editor.  —As a busy family practitioner, I think one of the reasons seems obvious why many patients are being "seriously undertreated for depression."1 Most patients do not have an easy time accepting a diagnosis that implies to them a weakness in their character, which psychiatric diagnoses are apt to do. When a physician takes the time to explain the chemical nature of the illness and the fact that it is a medical disease, it is usually possible to convince the patient to start medication. Once the results of therapy are seen, it is seldom a problem to have the patient continue. Thus, one of the basic problems may reside in having the physician find the necessary time to educate and convince the patient of the medical nature of the disease.As a rule, we do not have this problem of convincing the patient of a diagnosis with other medical diseases