The prevalence of major depressive disorder and low self-esteem in medical inpatients

Can J Psychiatry. 1996 Mar;41(2):67-74. doi: 10.1177/070674379604100202.


Objective: To determine the prevalence of major depressive disorder in acutely ill medical inpatients, and the relationship of this to low self-esteem.

Method: A total of 186 patients were interviewed 6 or 7 days following admission to detect the presence of DSM-IV major depressive disorder (MDD). Patients were assessed using a new brief psychiatric interview, the Silverstone Concise Assessment for Depression (SCAD), which has previously been validated for use in the physically ill. The cognitive function of the patients was measured, using the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), with patients scoring less than 22 on the MMSE being excluded from the study. The patients' self-esteem was also assessed, using the Rosenberg self-esteem rating scale. The severity and type of the patients' medical illness, and the recognition of psychiatric illness by both nurses and physicians were also noted.

Results: The results showed that 18 patients (9.7%) were depressed. The depressed patients were significantly younger than the nondepressed patients (mean age 46.3 +/- 3.9 years versus 57.1 +/- 1.5 years, respectively) and were significantly more likely to be female (61% versus 44%, respectively). The depressed patients had a significantly lower self-esteem than the nondepressed patients, whose self-esteem was no different from the general population. However, the depressed patients were not more severely ill than the nondepressed patients. The results also demonstrated that both nurses and physicians were poor at recognizing the presence of major depression, with nurses recognizing 33% of cases compared to 22% for medical staff.

Conclusions: The results from this study demonstrate that while there is an increase in the incidence of depression in medically ill patients, this is not as great as has been previously reported, and is not related to severity of illness. The results from this study, therefore, are in keeping with other recent findings which show that the prevalence rates for MDD in medical patients is between 5% to 10% rather than the previously accepted range of 20% to 40%.

MeSH terms

  • Adjustment Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Adjustment Disorders / epidemiology
  • Adjustment Disorders / psychology
  • Adjustment Disorders / therapy
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alberta / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurocognitive Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Neurocognitive Disorders / epidemiology
  • Neurocognitive Disorders / psychology
  • Neurocognitive Disorders / therapy
  • Personality Assessment
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Self Concept*
  • Sick Role*