August 9/23, 1999

Depression Is Still Underrecognized and Undertreated

Author Affiliations

Copyright 1999 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.1999

Arch Intern Med. 1999;159(15):1657-1658. doi:10.1001/archinte.159.15.1657

I WISH I HAD A DOLLAR for every time I have heard the following comments from senior clinicians: "If I were his age, I'd be depressed too." "Wouldn't you be depressed if you had [fill in name of unfavorable diagnosis]?" However, this response is just a misunderstanding of the pathological nature, potentially severe consequences, and treatability of depression that conspires to keep the condition of at least half of people with depression unrecognized and untreated.

Old age is not for the fainthearted. Loss and suffering are too common. But the human organism is amazingly resilient. As we retain body temperature, blood glucose, and other indices over a wide range of conditions, so we also have an inbuilt capacity to respond and adapt. Psychological wounds (eg, loss of function or loved ones) can be met with compensation and the aid of others. Reinvigoration is the norm.

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