Brief depression among patients in general practice

Prevalence and variation by recurrence and severity
  • W. Maier
  • R. Herr
  • D. Lichtermann
  • M. Gänsicke
  • O. Benkert
  • G. Faust
Article

Abstract

Depression with substantial psychosocial impairment, but not qualifying as depressive disorder according to the standard diagnostic manuals, is frequent among primary care patients. Recurrent brief depression (RBD) is a diagnostic category intended to identify a major proportion of this group of patients. The WHO study on “Psychological Problems in Primary Health Care” was used as a vehicle to estimate the proportion of patients with this diagnosis and to evaluate the validity of this diagnosis as well as of alternative concepts of brief depression with multiple episodes. This study applies a two-stage sampling scheme; 300 patients also underwent an additional interview tailored for variants of brief depression. 7.6% of primary care patients were identified as RBD with the majority not receiving any other psychiatric diagnosis (DSM-III-R). These patients reported substantial psychosocial impairment, and the majority were identified as psychological cases by general practitioners. However, patients experiencing other variants of brief episodes were also found to be substantially psychosocially impaired, although they were not identified as psychiatric cases by DSM-III-R. Thus, a less restrictive definition of RBD is proposed. The diagnostic definition of RBD has a major impact on the sex ratio of cases: the less restrictive the diagnosis, the more balanced are the prevalence rates between males and females.

Key words

Recurrent brief depression Primary care Diagnostic schedules Sex ratio in depression 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Maier
    • 1
  • R. Herr
    • 1
  • D. Lichtermann
    • 1
  • M. Gänsicke
    • 1
  • O. Benkert
    • 1
  • G. Faust
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of MainzMainzGermany

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