Recognition and treatment of depression in a family medicine practice

J Clin Psychiatry. 1983 Jan;44(1):3-6.


To test the hypothesis that depression is significantly underdiagnosed in general medical settings, the Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale was administered to 1,086 family medicine outpatients seen during a 12-month period before their initial medical examination. The effects of such screening on clinical recognition and treatment of depression were examined. Of the 1,086 patients, 143 (13.2%) were symptomatically depressed. These patients were randomized into two groups: 102 were identified as clinically depressed to their physician, and the remaining 41 were not (control group). Physicians diagnosed depression in 15% of the control group and in 68% of the identified group. At 4-week follow-up, 64% of the identified patients who were treated with maprotiline (16 of 25) showed improvement; only 28% of the identified patients who were electively not treated improved. Improvement occurred in only 18% of the control group. It appears that the diagnosis of depression is not ordinarily made in family medicine outpatient settings and that self-rating depression scales are useful diagnostic aids, whose regular use is indicated by the high prevalence of depression in general medical populations.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Ambulatory Care
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Family Practice*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maprotiline / therapeutic use
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Inventory
  • Primary Health Care


  • Maprotiline