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May 1990

Depression: Underrecognition and Undertreatment by Psychiatrists and Other Health Care Professionals

Author Affiliations

Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior Brown University Providence, RI 02912 Reprints available.

Arch Intern Med. 1990;150(5):946-948. doi:10.1001/archinte.1990.00390170008002

Dr Pérez-Stable and colleagues, in this issue of the Archives, 1 report the following important and disturbing finding: that a significant percentage of See also p 1083. primary care physicians fail to detect and diagnose depression in their patients. Even more disturbing is the fact many psychiatrists—who, it may be assumed, treat the most seriously ill patients—also underdiagnose and undertreat major depression.

The failure to recognize depression has serious implications for the health of depressed patients: depression is a serious, recurrent, and often chronic illness among both psychiatric and nonpsychiatric patient populations. The RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, Calif, Medical Outcomes Study, a survey of 11242 outpatients with nine chronic medical conditions, including depression, found that one-half of depressed patients sought treatment from a medical clinician rather than from a psychiatrist. While those patients who sought care from general practitioners had better social functioning than did the patients who sought care

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