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Prevalence of recurrent brief depression in primary care

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Abstract

Descriptions of mentally ill inpatients have strongly influenced current classifications of mental disorders. Primary care patients may therefore present a substantially different pathology. Some diagnoses, infrequent in psychiatric settings but common in the general population or in primary care, have been described, such as the concept of recurrent brief depression (RBD) proposed by Jules Angst. RBD refers to frequent but short-lasting (usually only a few days) severe depressive episodes. In parallel with a study organized by the World Health Organization aimed at defining the psychological disorders encountered in primary care, we investigated the prevalence of RBD, its severity, and comorbidity with major and well-defined disorders using a structured interview (CIDI). The current prevalence of RBD in a general practice population was found to be about 10%. The average duration of the episodes is 3–4 days. Ours results confirm the severity of this disorder; in particular, a history of suicide attempts is frequent (23.3%). Among RBD patients, 26% do not present any other psychiatric disorder. When a comorbidity is reported, depressive episodes (lasting at least two weeks, acording to ICD-10) and generalized anxiety disorder are the main associated disorders. Our results are in favor of the existence of RBD as a separate and original nosological entity.

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This study was conducted in parallel with the WHO project on Psychological Problems in General Health Care. A list of the collaborating investigators and information on this study can be found in volumes of the report of the project on Psychological Problems in General Health Care, WHO, Geneva

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Weiller, E., Boyer, P., Lepine, J.P. et al. Prevalence of recurrent brief depression in primary care. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Nuerosci 244, 174–181 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02190395

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02190395

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