Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009


When 12 million americans have a disease, you'd think doctors would get good at spotting it. But that's not the case with depression. According to a review published by the journal Lancet, general practitioners do not detect clinical depression in about half the patients who suffer from it. There are a few reasons for this. The stigma still associated with depression causes many people to consult not a psychologist, who is trained to recognize the condition, but a primary-care provider, who may not be. What's more, the brief 15 minutes or so that most people get with their doctor is not enough for many patients to open up. One answer is reforming health care to encourage longer appointments and follow-up visits. Another is to rewrite the diagnostic criteria for depression so that they're more specific than the loose collection of symptoms — such as fatigue and indecisiveness — that is used today.