[Diagnosis and therapy of depression in the heart disease patient]

Ther Umsch. 2003 Nov;60(11):703-7. doi: 10.1024/0040-5930.60.11.703.
[Article in German]


Even though depressions and depressive symptoms are frequently observed in patients with medical diseases, their psychological problems are often neither diagnosed nor treated. Diagnosis of mood state might be easy in isolated cases yet it often is not since the precise nature of normal mood cannot be expressed in quantitative terms. Furthermore, depression can only be diagnosed based on the doctor's clinical appraisal and the patient's own description of his/her complaints. There is no gold standard on which depressive symptoms can be based on--and further on, depression is not a diagnosis. Instead, it is a syndrome that calls for differential diagnoses before treatment can be offered. Diagnosing depressive comorbidity in patients with medical complaints is even more difficult because of the overlap between symptoms of depression and accompanying symptoms of the somatic illness e.g. lack of energy. Although depressive states have been known to be a risk factor for the prognosis of patients with coronary heart disease for a long time, there is a paucity of research about the therapy these patients undergo due to the fact that tricyclic anti-depressants can have cardiotoxic effects on patients with heart disease. The treatment of depression in these patients has become a much lower risk since the introduction of serotonin reuptake inhibitors. There is widespread evidence that depressive comorbidity has a negative impact on the prognosis of medical disorders. Despite the complex nature of diagnosing depression, proper diagnosis and treatment is increasingly important in internal medicine and especially cardiology.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Coronary Disease / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Electrocardiography / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors