The Reporter
Issue 486, 25 November 2002
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GPs miss over three million diagnoses


Depression is one the most common reasons people see their GP, and yet in about three million people – nearly half of cases – it is not diagnosed, a new report has found.

Report author Dr Simon Gilbody said: “Depression affects around 10% of the population, but the vast majority go to their GP with unspecific physical complaints, and too often their depression remains unrecognised or inappropriately managed. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, depressed people can put pressure on overstretched NHS resources, using services up to twice as much as non-depressed patients.”

Clinical lecturer in psychiatry, Dr Gilbody worked with researchers at the universities of Newcastle, York, Aberdeen and Ottawa to analyse various studies looking at diagnosis and treatment of depression. The findings of the report, Effective Health Care, will be disseminated to GPs, policy makers and health commissioners.

The most effective initiatives for patients with depression, such as telephone helplines, counselling and medication monitoring were shown to be cost effective and successful, but these require greater numbers of primary care workers. Although the recent NHS plan aims to recruit another 1,000 primary care mental health workers by 2004, more still needs to be done, the report concluded.

The report can be downloaded at and will be published in the Cochrane Health Library, available through the University Library.


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